Robert Fick hit the last home run at Tiger Stadium in Detroit, a grand slam onto the ballpark's iconic roof in September 1999. Was he juiced up on performance-enhancing drugs when he went deep for the Detroit Tigers?
In an interview Thursday with Good Day, L.A. on Fox TV, Fick says no, that he "didn't know any better at that point." But he did admit to taking PEDs, twice. Not to bulk up and "hit home runs," he claims, but instead to recover from chronic shoulder problems.
"I was a young player who had had three or four shoulder injuries and was told it would help me get back on the field and stay on the field."
Fick said he took amphetamines too, and implied that most players did until they were explicitly outlawed in recent seasons. It's his impression that "baseball's really cleaned it up" with drug testing in recent seasons, and that it's "90 percent" clean of PED users. Those among the other alleged 10 percent — guys like as Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez — do the drugs to "stay on top," Fick says, when their bodies break down.
Fick also said it's highly likely that the teammates of users know that the users are using. That's how it was when he played:
"Everybody knew and nobody cared. ... The goal was to win and be in the major leagues."
And yet, Fick says he'd be in favor of a zero tolerance policy. That's how to cure the game of the other 10 percent.
But if the intent of users is to simply overcome injuries and stay on the field, is that something that should be punishable by permanent banishment on the first offense? Aren't today's players like those in Fick's era, who want to "win and be in the major leagues"? Baseball's steroid story is rife with contradictions, paradoxes and half-truths — and it's not just the users who are telling them.
Fick was an All-Star in 2002. He had a few good seasons in Detroit and Atlanta. Yet, some already are wondering why we're even talking to bit players from 10 or 15 years ago about PEDs. It's a funny stance to take, considering the relative lack of media interest in drugs before those Congressional hearings in 2005.
BLS H/N: CBS Eye on Baseball