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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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Naulty bought steroids in pill form from the guy but says he did not take them. In 1988 he enrolled at Cerritos Junior College, then transferred to Cal State Fullerton two years later. He spent his entire college career on academic probation. One day during a sports psychology class, his professor asked why he didn't give more of an effort. "I don't need this class and I don't need school," Naulty said. "I'm going to play baseball and make more money than you can even think about."

"I've known Dan since he was 19, 20 years old," says Jeff Horn, a former catcher who played with Naulty at Cerritos and against him when Naulty pitched for Fullerton, and was again his teammate with the Miracle. "The thing that stuck out to me was his competitive nature. He loved to compete and figure out a way to get better."

As a senior, Naulty had a chance to realize the first of his childhood dreams when Fullerton played Pepperdine for the 1992 College World Series championship. Titans coach Augie Garrido gave the ball to Naulty, his ace, on two days rest. Naulty gave up two runs in the first inning on a walk and three hits. Garrido pulled him after that one inning. Fullerton lost 3--2. "It was a devastating loss for me," he says. "I just wanted to come home. I needed a rest."

A few weeks later he reported to Kenosha to begin his professional career. Still despondent, he was further depressed by the threadbare Class A life. He lived in a spare bedroom in the home of a man who hosted a Kenosha player each year. Every night Naulty would come home after a game and find his host asleep in a chair in a room filled with books, a lit cigar in his mouth. He was sure they were going to die one night in a fire.

Naulty pitched six times for Kenosha, starting twice. He gave up 22 hits and 11 earned runs in 18 innings. He arrived at a quick conclusion: He wasn't nearly good enough to become a major league pitcher. "I didn't have the speed," he says. "I didn't have the location. I didn't have the size. I had the height. That's all. That's essentially why I got drafted."

Naulty concocted a way to get sent home: He exaggerated an injury. He took an awkward step and tripped during pregame fielding practice and milked the opportunity. He went home to Huntington Beach halfway through the season. "I just kept pretending my hip was bothering me and that was it," he says. "I had scouts telling me, 'Just gain weight, just gain weight.' Everybody was telling me that. My coaches, scouts, friends ... everybody. 'Man, you're 6'6". If you could just gain weight, you'd be throwing a hundred!'

"Kenosha was really telling. I may not have taken drugs if I got there and was able to compete. But there was no way. I was not getting out of A ball. No chance."

Naulty knew what he had to do. There was no way he could face people as a failed baseball player. The game was his only option. Soon after he returned home he spoke to a friend who played junior college baseball, a guy he had previously spoken to about steroids. He asked his friend for a supplier, who arranged a meeting.

"Tell me what you want to do," said the supplier, a bodybuilder.

"I need to throw 95 miles an hour," Naulty said, "and the only way I can see doing that is if I weigh 220 pounds."

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