Former New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers star Gary Sheffield claims his decision to be one of the elite players in the 1990s to speak out against the growing steroid scandal did not sit well with MLB’s commissioner at the time and the league slowly tried to force him out of the sport because of it.
Despite decades having passed since the heights of the scandal, MLB’s 90s saga with steroids always follows the league. When interest in the league was starting to hit surprisingly low levels, a shocking power surge gripped the industry and led to a renewed fascination with the product.
Of course, players like Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds were the faces of the era as they destroyed legendary numbers, but home runs were on the rise across the league and players who were never known for the long ball all of a sudden became sluggers back then. While many players clearly dabbled in questionable substances to boost their statistics and earnings, not all of them were happy about the influx of steroids in the league.
One player who preferred to remain a top star naturally and was outspoken against the crisis was nine-time All-Star Gary Sheffield. Over 22 seasons he showed he was a gifted athlete by being an All-Star for the San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers, the then-Florida Marlins, and the New York Yankees. And recently, the league legend who shockingly has been kept out of the Baseball Hall-of-Fame added some interesting new layers to the ’90s MLB saga.
Former New York Yankees star Garry Sheffield claims MLB tried to ‘hush’ his ’90s steroid concerns
“I was the first guy to bring up the steroid situation,” Sheffield said during an appearance for the “Foul Territory Show.” I had a problem with it because I felt they were taking MVPs away from me. I had a personal problem with it because I did the Bryant Gumbel special, I was with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and I brought it up. And I said without saying names, there’s this one guy that’s hitting all these home runs that I had 150 home runs more than.
“And I train like you wouldn’t believe in the offseason, and I was still hitting 30 and 40 home runs a year, and now he has 150 home runs more than me. That’s impossible. Then once I started speaking like that, Major League Baseball tried to hush me up. Bud Selig called me into the office and told me to stop it with the steroid stuff because I am drawing too much attention to the game in a negative way.”
The 55-year-old claims that going through the usual channels of speaking with the players’ union would not have gotten the necessary results, so going public was the optimal approach to address the situation faster. However, he feels that rubbed the league the wrong way and they then tried to link him to the scandal and push him out of the sport.
“Every team I played on I was the best player. I had the best numbers,” he said. “But what they do is they were trying to get me out of the game a long time ago.”
Sheffield played his last season in the league with the New York Mets in 2009. During recent Hall-of-Fame voting, he surprisingly did not earn enough votes to stay on the ballot and now his only chance to be immortalized in the Hall will have to come through the veterans committee.