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TO CHEAT OR NOT TO CHEAT
TOM VERDUCCI
June 04, 2012
A DECADE AFTER KEN CAMINITI HELPED PULL BASEBALL'S STEROID PROBLEM OUT OF THE SHADOWS, THOSE WHO CHASED THE BIG LEAGUE DREAM IN A DIRTY ERA STILL WRESTLE WITH HOW THEY DEALT WITH THE DILEMMA OF A GENERATION
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June 04, 2012

To Cheat Or Not To Cheat

A DECADE AFTER KEN CAMINITI HELPED PULL BASEBALL'S STEROID PROBLEM OUT OF THE SHADOWS, THOSE WHO CHASED THE BIG LEAGUE DREAM IN A DIRTY ERA STILL WRESTLE WITH HOW THEY DEALT WITH THE DILEMMA OF A GENERATION

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"I clearly understand what you're asking. So let's get on with it."

The two spoke for four hours over two days. The Mitchell Report included only six paragraphs about Naulty. But he was all over television because he was one of the few players among the 68 who agreed to be interviewed to voluntarily admit to Mitchell's investigators that he used drugs. (Caminiti had not been interviewed, having died three years earlier after a cocaine-related overdose.) "I was fairly shocked" that there were so few, Naulty says now.

His Miracle teammates were shocked too. Legault said it never occurred to him that Naulty used steroids. Linebarger had noticed in 1994 that Naulty's legs were much larger than they had been, and had asked his teammate what he did in the off-season. "Ah," Naulty said, "me and some football coach really got after the weights."

"I always thought about that," Linebarger says now.

Naulty's revelation hit Roberts hardest. He was the only one of the Miracle pitchers who had played with Naulty when he wasn't using steroids: They had been in Class A ball in Kenosha, Wis., in 1992, after Roberts had decided not to pursue an NBA career. On his off days between starts, Roberts operated the radar gun behind home plate. He consistently clocked Naulty at 84 to 86 miles per hour. Fifteen years later, on a Sunday morning in 2007, Roberts watched Naulty give a television interview about how steroids helped him reach the big leagues.

"I was pretty upset," Roberts says. "Gosh, it's hard enough trying to make it in this profession. You want to make it on your own abilities and work ethic, and all of a sudden, when you think it's an even playing field, you've got somebody cheating. I was very upset, knowing my chance to get to the big leagues was cut short. I was jealous, hurt, frustrated, angry ... all that stuff.

"I guess I should have been suspicious. How can a guy go from 85 miles an hour to 95 in three or four years? As I look back on it, it's so clear and obvious that I can't believe I was that naive and incredibly stupid. All the signs were there."

Vin Scully provided the sound track to Dan Naulty's childhood in Southern California, and Steve Garvey, Ron Cey, Davey Lopes, Dusty Baker and the rest of the Dodgers embodied a dream. Naulty grew up with two ambitions: to win the College World Series and to become a major leaguer. "All I could think about was being a baseball player and all that comes with it," he says.

He had little interest in schoolwork, especially as he grew to his full height in high school and showed promise as a pitcher. But Naulty, despite sporadic weightlifting and a healthy appetite, could not gain weight. He knew a small group of classmates who were into bodybuilding, and the word was they had access to steroids.

"Sure, I'll get you anything you want," one of the muscleheads told him. "I'll put size on you."

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