By Dave Sheinin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Kirk J. Radomski was known as "Murdock" in the clubhouses at Shea Stadium, under the mysterious, seemingly random system by which nicknames are doled out in baseball. But Radomski, at least by the early 1990s, looked different than most of the other New York Mets clubhouse assistants, or "clubbies" -- the collection of teenagers and young men in every big league locker room who scrape mud from cleats, set up the postgame spread and run errands for the players.
"He was the guy who was in better physical condition than the others," said left-handed pitcher Pete Schourek, who pitched for the Mets from 1991 to '93. "He looked like he worked out."
In the wake of yesterday's news that Radomski, now 37, had pleaded guilty in federal court to supplying anabolic steroids and human growth hormones to dozens of players, the Mets organization provided only the barest of details of his employment there between 1985-95, while ex-Mets players searched their memories for recollections of the young man most of them knew only as Murdock, if they knew him at all.
"If it's the guy I'm thinking of, he was just one of the clubhouse kids," said Howard Johnson, who played for the Mets from 1985-93 and is now their first base coach. "He seemed normal to me -- nice kid. I'd definitely be surprised if [the news accounts are] true. I wasn't aware of any of that [activity]."
Although Radomski, as part of his plea deal with prosecutors, said he had worked as a bat boy, clubhouse assistant and equipment manager for the Mets, a team spokesman said yesterday afternoon at RFK Stadium -- where the team opened a three-game series against the Washington Nationals -- that Radomski had never been an equipment manager and, in fact, never had a titled position.
"He was a clubbie," the spokesman said.
However, regardless of how humble a job Radomski held with the Mets, yesterday's revelations have forced baseball to confront another tentacle of the ever-expanding steroids scandal, one that has the potential to be enduring and far-reaching -- given the fact Radomski named names to prosecutors and agreed to cooperate with the MLB-sponsored investigation into steroids use that is being led by former Sen. George Mitchell.
"[W]e are encouraged that the U.S. Attorney has insisted Mr. Radomski cooperate with Senator George Mitchell's investigation as a condition of the plea agreement," MLB President Bob DuPuy said in a statement.
Although Radomski's steroids-distribution business apparently began after he left the Mets in 1995 -- the federal search-warrant affidavit filed in December 2005 listed 23 personal checks allegedly from players or other baseball figures that were deposited into Radomski's personal banking account from May 2003 to March 2005 -- he built it using contacts he had made in the clubhouses at Shea Stadium.
Teams rarely keep detailed records of the ever-changing packs of young men who work as clubbies in both the home and visitors' clubhouses at their stadiums, usually reporting to the equipment manager or clubhouse manager. They are typically not acknowledged among the team employee listings in the media guide and rarely travel to road games.
Mets equipment manager Charlie Samuels, who supervised Radomski in New York, said through a team spokesman that he had no comment. Neither Manager Willie Randolph (who played for the Mets in 1992) nor General Manager Omar Minaya would discuss the revelations regarding Radomski.
A statement released by the team said, "We were surprised and disappointed to learn of the guilty plea today. The conduct in question is diametrically opposed to the values and standards of the Mets organization and our owners. We are and always have been adamantly opposed to the use of performance-enhancing drugs and continue to support Major League Baseball's efforts to eradicate any such use in our game."
Radomski likely would have been 15 years old in 1985, when he said he began with the Mets, and would have been 16 in 1986, when the Mets won the World Series. Where many clubbies last only a year or two, Radomski endured. If he followed the typical career trajectory for clubbies, he would have gained more status and been given less menial tasks the more tenure he gained.
Ron Darling, who pitched for the Mets from 1983-91 and is now a television analyst for the team, said he does not recall a clubbie named Kirk Radomski, or Murdock.
"You got to understand -- in New York there's so many [clubbies] around, over so many years," Darling said. "It's hard to keep track."
Likewise, Davey Johnson, who managed the team from 1984-90, said he doesn't remember anyone by those names, adding that he typically knew all the clubhouse attendants.
"If he was there a long time," Johnson said, "I'm sure we would have known him well."
Schourek, however, could guess the identity of the clubbie in question before a reporter even relayed his full name. "His name," Schourek said, "was Murdock."
Schourek said he was friendly with Radomski, and even "hung out" with him occasionally "away from the clubhouse." But he never saw Radomski with performance-enhancing drugs, and never heard him discussing them.
"From what I remember," Schourek said, "he was just a great guy."
Staff writers Barry Svrluga and Adam Kilgore contributed to this report.