What will they say now? All of the sportswriters who have been squawking about the so-called ‘steroid era’ in baseball may have to modify their stance just a tad if the following is true: Mickey Mantle was given testosterone by a physician which caused an abcess in his hip during the 1961 season.
According to a story penned by Zev Chafets in ESPN the Magazine (http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=4192628), the Mick was given a concoction of test and amphetamines in a dirty needle which caused the Yankee centerfielder to miss enough time during that famous summer. Both he and teammate Roger Maris were locked in a home run chase before Mantle’s injury forced him into the hospital. He finished with 52 home runs while Maris hit number 61 on the last day of the season to surpass Babe Ruth’s mark.
Chafets, who wrote “Cooperstown Confidential: Heroes, Rogues and the Inside Story of the Baseball Hall of Fame,” also mentions that gaining that edge may have went all the way back to the nineteenth century. A pitcher named Pud Galvin is said to have injected monkey testosterone in 1889.
Just how Chafets came across this information remains to be seen. It appears to be a good way to market his book. According to records, Harvard professor Charles-Edouard Brown-Sequard self-injected a substance consisting of the extracts of dog and guinea pig testicles but there was not any significant progress in that field until 1927.
Galvin, baseball’s first 300-game winner and member of the Hall of Fame, was one of Brown-Sequard’s test subjects during a study at a medical college in Pittsburgh. What was called an ‘elixir’ at the time was widely praised by the Washington Post, with the telling line being, “It is the best proof yet furnished of the value of the discovery.”
On the Mantle issue, all the reports state is that a doctor gave him an injection which caused him a great deal of pain in his hip. It later turned into an abscess and eventually shut him down in September. What exactly was in that injection is the million dollar question.
Of course frequency and intent hold a lot of integrity in many people’s minds, but the old ‘pure’ days may be a little different than many were made to believe. One shot of test is not going to do anything for you, especially a professional athlete, but if critics were killing today’s players for admitting to using on only a handful of occasions -which in of itself is ridiculous – then they have to keep their minds open if the Mantle reports are in fact valid.
The early 1960s is the period where bodybuilders began using performance-enhancing drugs more regularly so it is not out of the realm of possibility that a doctor treating an athlete, ie:) a baseball player, would have known that the use testosterone would have a positive affect on physical performance.
So the next time that an argument starts going towards the modern day players all being cheaters, that can be counteracted by stating that two Hall of Famers were doing it, too.