Radomski could have domino effect in MLB steroid era
By Gene Wojciechowski
The guy who might, just might, force Major League Baseball to break into a full sweat -- and break out the asterisks -- is a 37-year-old nobody, a career jockstrap picker-upper, a glorified gofer who used to work for tips in the Shea Stadium visitors clubhouse. He wasn't the lowest person on the New York Mets' organizational food chain, but he was close.
Kirk Radomski is his name. He was a clubbie, and clubbies are supposed to shine up your cleats, fetch you the latest issue of Maxim and make sure there are enough forks and knives for the postgame food spread. They aren't supposed to be chirping to the feds like a robin in a birdbath.
But Radomski took the baseball service industry to a new level. He followed up his years of finding new shoelaces for the fellas by becoming, for dozens of yet-unnamed ballplayers both past and present, the one-stop shopping destination for human growth hormone and steroids, among others.
MLB, its players, their union and the record book could be on the verge of a massive cluster migraine. And all because a former no-name clubhouse assistant recently pleaded guilty in a San Francisco federal court to supplying dozens of big leaguers with performance enhancers and then laundering the drug money. He's looking at as many as 25 years in the big house and $500,000 in fines.
So Radomski is talking to federal investigators. And talking some more. And the more he talks, the more MLB commissioner Bud Selig and players union executive director Donald Fehr squirm in their suits. Isn't this great?
But the best part is knowing that nobody, absolutely nobody, is experiencing more discomfort than the dozens of ballplayers who purchased anabolic steroids, HGH, clomiphene, amphetamines and whatever else from Radomski during a 10-year span beginning in 1995. Whoever you are, your baseball days are likely numbered.
Think about it: A guy who retrieved sweaty sani socks off the clubhouse floor could become the domino that tips forward and knocks down every remaining barrier to a new baseball world order. Radomski could do what two award-winning authors, a congressional hearing, a grand jury, Barry Bonds' former mistress, a toothless MLB-sponsored investigation and the media couldn't do: end the inertia that separates baseball fans from the truth.
Anyone who spends their hard-earned dollars to attend a ballgame deserves to know if the players are or were 'roided up and if the game is or was compromised. The legacies and career numbers of Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays, to name a few, deserve the same respect.
Radomski isn't Greg Anderson, the close friend of and former personal trainer to Bonds who remains jailed because he refuses to cooperate with federal prosecutors investigating BALCO. Bonds' own lawyer has said his client should financially reward Anderson if and when his buddy leaves prison.
Radomski doesn't have a sugar outfielder. That's why he's cooperating with prosecutors. The more verifiable information he provides, perhaps the less time he spends in a prison jumpsuit. Not only do the feds have his testimony, they also have his financial records, shipping history and player contact and distribution lists.
Clubbies depend on tips for a huge chunk of their incomes. You can make a nice enough living, but 2004 Lexus GX470 and 1995 Lexus LS 400 nice? That's what the Radomskis had parked at their Manorville, N.Y., home, and here's guessing the luxury cars weren't funded by monies from his tip jar. No, Radomski was distributing steroids in the easy-to-use pill form, or, if you preferred injections, you could opt for Radomski-supplied syringes.
Jim Ksicinski, who spent 35 years as the Milwaukee Brewers' visiting clubhouse manager, had a sign posted for his clubbies near the front door. "What you see here, what you say here, what you do here, let it stay here when you leave here," it read.
"What that sign said, I took to heart," said Ksicinski, who retired in 1997. "I would imagine most clubhouse guys would."
Not all of them. What Radomski did with the contacts he made in the Shea Stadium visitors clubhouse isn't going to be a secret much longer. But whose fault is that? Did the ballplayers who juiced up really think they could depend on a former clubbie not to get caught? Did they really believe that the feds were going to call it quits just because Bonds' trainer has taken the vows of silence? And how many more Radomski-types are out there?
This isn't finished. The New York Times has reported that at least three more search warrant affidavits have been filed by Jeff Novitzky, the IRS lead investigator. Today Radomski, tomorrow Ö?
Congress is paying attention to these latest developments, which is never a good thing for MLB or the players union. Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., a baseball Hall of Famer, told me several weeks ago it might be time to subpoena ballplayers if they don't cooperate with MLB's sloooooowwwwww investigation being conducted by George Mitchell. What's next, steroid legislation? After all, an election year is coming up.
For a while we were fascinated by Alex Rodriguez's 14-home run April. And four days into May, Bonds already has nine more homers in his tainted chase to overtake Aaron's record 755. But baseball's real drama involves a drug-selling weasel who picked up jerseys, but never wore one. The Feds are going after his player-clients and the numbers could surpass anything we've ever seen.
Now there's a record I'd like to see broken.
Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org