Jun 28 2009
Larry Starr, an assistant athletic director of Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and used to be a trainer for 30 years with the Cincinnati Reds and Florida Marlins, was in the trenches of Major League Baseball during the Steroid Era. But unlike the office of the commissioner, players, owners, coaches and union officials has nothing at stake. Neil Hayes of Chicago Sun-Times wrote that Starr is “so unflinchingly honest that listening to him is like hearing a deathbed confession.”
According to the same column written by Hayes, Starr does not buy into the I-didn’t-know-and-therefore-can’t-be blamed message commissioner Bud Selig usually delivers whenever a new controversy arises. When New York Times reported that former Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa is one of the players who tested positive during the 2003 drug test, Starr told a national radio audience that stories linking Sosa to past steroid use “are no longer germane.”
Starr also kept an open-door policy and told players about the potential side effects of steroids whenever possible. Players would not have confided in him and he would not have been able to counsel them if players feared he would turn them in. “They would say, ‘Do you have any evidence? Did you see people injecting themselves?’” Starr said. “If I said no — and I would have because I wasn’t going to sneak around watching guys in toilets — they would’ve said, ‘Then shut up and do your job.’ Or they would have brought in the player and asked him. Then I would have been done. I would’ve lost the trust of my players, my manager and coaches.”
Starr also revealed that he found a bag full of syringes that belonged to former Marlin pitcher Ricky Bones. That happened in 2000 and Starr said he gave the bag to his boss and that the report went up the chain to Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig. This information was not included when the Mitchell Report was released in 2007.
Unlike Selig and Mark McGwire, Starr doesn’t mind delving about the past. He even thinks that if the officials had not turned a blind eye to the use of performance-enhancing drugs that started almost two decades ago, the so-called Steroid Era might have been avoided. “Someone ought to ask Mr. Selig whether he had any suspicion at all,” Starr said. “Was there any one time from 1990 to 2003 that you had any suspicion that people were doing something wrong or cheating? If he says no to that question, he must not have watched many games.”
Starr also finds it hard to believe that officials of the MLB could have been oblivious when there are so many signs of performance-enhancing drug use. These so-called signs have been attempted to bring to the attention of management and union officials as early as the late 1980s by MLB’s medical community.
“If Alex Rodriguez said one credible thing, it was that it was the culture,” said Starr. “It’s sad that the culture developed that way.”