Every year when Baseball conducts Hall of Fame balloting or when a player approaches an all-time record, talk on television and sports radio turns to how baseball should discount such feats and alter its record book due to the revelation of widespread use of performance enhancing drugs. While the pundits will never cease in bringing the subject matter up, as it is an easy topic for them to argue, Major League Baseball should take a definitive stand on the topic. It is in the best interest of Major League Baseball both from a public relations standpoint and to protect the integrity of its rich statistical history to state that it will not alter its record book.
Performance enhancing drugs, and cheating in general, are not a new phenomenon in baseball as many would have you believe. While the types of drugs and substances have changed through the years, they have been around baseball for almost a century. Furthermore, it is through rose colored glasses when a pundit or baseball fan makes the claim that nostalgic heroes of the past were above reproach, yet modern players as a whole, are a lot of cheaters and drug abusers.
Those that want to have baseball records nullified, or marked with an asterisk, and limit Hall of Fame entry will have you believe that this is a recent problem. They will also claim that the vast majority of players in the modern era have taken, or are still taking performance enhancing drugs. All the while, maintaining that players of decades past were competing in a completely “clean” environment.
The media has done a disservice to Major League Baseball by sensationalizing every story that may or may not implicate a player’s use of performance enhancing drugs. In the book, “World Sports: A Reference Handbook”, author Maylon Hanold lists every player from Major League Baseball to have admitted or be suspected of using performance enhancing drugs. His findings are that 124 players from 1990 to present have been linked to performance enhancing drugs. That number represents 17 percent of the total number of players in any given year. (193) Over the 20 year period it represents less than 1% of the total players to have played in Major League Baseball. We can safely conclude that the problem is not as wide spread as some would have you to believe.
Gaylord Perry, a Hall of Fame Pitcher, played 22 years in Major League Baseball and won 314 games (baseball-reference.com). While he was still an active player, he wrote a book titled, “Me & The Spitter The candid Confessions of Baseball's Greatest Spitball Artist (or How I Got Away With It)”. While the title of his book is damning enough, Perry admitted to the “Journal of Southern History” that he began throwing a spit ball, which is an illegal pitch, from 1964 to the end of his career. So, while Perry is an admitted cheater, his plaque rests comfortably in Cooperstown.
An August 1974 Sport Magazine article detailed the ejection of Graig Nettles from a baseball game. While...