Yesterday the Baseball Hall of Fame announced its 2013 class. Three players, all on the ballot for the first time, were voted in by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Those players, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Frank Thomas all played during the “steroid era”. But, they all played it cleanly and still put up amazing numbers.
I have to admit, that being a White Sox fan, and no I am not going to apologize for it either, I believe that Frank Thomas was a no-brainer Hall of Fame First Ballot nominee. I have watched the White Sox for many years and he is the most prolific hitter I have ever seen in a White Sox uniform. Although I was worried that he would be unfairly thrown into that “category”, I have no doubt that he played the game clean without the use of steroids or other performance enhancing drugs. I do not say this simply because I am a White Sox fan. There is a reason for my belief.
I am not quite certain about the year, but I think is was around 2003. Baseball and the Players Union finally agreed that something needed to be done about the use of PEDs in baseball. But, the union wanted baseball to find out just how prevalent that use was before instituting mandatory drug tests. So they came up with a plan. They decided to conduct anonymous drug tests during spring training. If the percentage of players exceeded a certain number, then mandatory testing would be implemented the following year. It was also decided that if a player chose not to participate in the test, that would count as a positive.
Spring training came along and the drug tests were on. Everything was going well, according to reports at the time. The results wouldn’t be announced until much later in the season, so it wasn’t really being followed that closely by the media. Then, the drug testers showed up at the White Sox training facility and all holy hell broke loose!
It turned out that the White Sox players, including Frank Thomas, had unanimously decided in a team meeting to refuse to take the test. They wanted mandatory testing in baseball, and they figured if every White Sox player refused the test, they would throw the numbers high enough to force it into being. Needless to say, pace-makers and hearts stopped all over Union Headquarters!
The union immediately sent representatives to the White Sox training facility. The drug tests were put on hold until they held their meetings with the players. Now, I don’t know what was said in those meetings. I am sure there was a whole lot of cajoling and begging and whatever, but the players all finally agreed to stop their “action” and take the tests. As it turned out, the league-wide percentage exceeded the pre-set number and testing became mandatory.
I use this little known story because if I had been Frank Thomas and was using PEDs, the last thing I would have wanted was mandatory testing. He was fully onboard with the refusal plan. As a matter of fact, he was one of the clubhouse leaders at the time. That is one reason I am certain he played the game clean.
NBA Great Charles Barkely once said, “I ain’t no role model.” Although I understand what he was saying, namely fathers should be our heroes, I also understand that sports heroes ARE role models. When speaking of role models, that White Sox team should be considered true role models for their courageous stand. They stood by their belief that cheating in sports is bad for the game and should be stopped.
All three of these new Hall Of Famers proved that you can be successful without using PEDs. They are also true role models in sports.