A convicted cocaine dealer said today that Baltimore Orioles second baseman Rich Dauer and relief pitcher Sammy Stewart merely experimented with the drug during the 1982-1983 offseason.
"On a scale of 1 to 10, those guys were a half or less," Gary Kimmel said during an interview at his Baltimore County home.
It was grand jury testimony by Dauer and Stewart, under a grant of immunity by federal prosecutors in Baltimore, that helped to convict Kimmel, he said today. He served 13 months at Lewisburg, Pa., federal prison on drug-trafficking charges and was released June 13.
Asked in Seattle about published allegations that he bought small amounts of cocaine in 1982 and 1983, Dauer said, "That was a long time ago." When a reporter pointed to Kimmel's name and asked if Dauer knew him, he said, "Yeah, I know him." He declined further comment.
Stewart said, "I don't want to talk about that now."
Kimmel, a one-time junior high school physical education teacher who now sells real estate, said he thought "very few" Orioles players had tried cocaine and "it is not a problem at all now." He said he did not have close contacts with the team.
Kimmel said Dauer and Stewart each bought a total of "six or seven" grams during the offseason. He said they bought it through a middleman, to whom he sold the drug before it then was sold to the players. "It wasn't like they were beating down my door to get it," he said.
Kimmel said he did not know Dauer or Stewart well. He said he met Dauer through a poker game at which the participants also watched Monday Night Football telecasts. "There was a gram at the poker game, and everybody would do it sitting there," Kimmel said.
He said he saw Dauer use cocaine during a poker game. He said he never saw Stewart use the drug.
"Richie's about as straight as you can be now," Kimmel said. "It's a frightening experience. It's something they were exposed to and tried. Once the fad wore off, they got away from it. It's a stage one goes through."
Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth has said drug use is the No. 1 problem in the sport.
"If a baseball player today is still doing drugs or on drugs, there has to be something wrong upstairs," Kimmel said. "They're under a microscope. The feds are good at their job. It can be uncovered. They have too much to lose."
Kimmel said that he had no animosity toward Dauer and Stewart for testifying against him.
"It was my own mistake," he said of dealing drugs. "I knew the risk I was taking. You can't be unrealistic. They weren't on the same level as I was. You can't hate somebody for life for doing that."
Kimmel said he was not surprised baseball players have been granted immunity in exchange for their testimony. "That's going to happen to any political figure or anybody in the public eye," he said.
Kimmel said he was in the middle of a tiered level of distribution. He said he sold cocaine to a salesman, who sold it to customers such as Dauer and Stewart. Kimmel said he bought cocaine from distributors in Baltimore whose connection was in Miami.
Kimmel said the New York Times, in its Monday editions, inaccurately described his alleged dealings with Dauer and Stewart. "I did not sell it to them," he said. "I sold it to another guy who sold it to them."
He dealt cocaine (at $80 per gram) for less than a year, Kimmel said, and made about $10,000 on it during that period. "I had lived in Florida," he said. "I had financial problems, and it was there."
Kimmel said he stopped selling it when he heard his business associates were under investigation. "It wasn't worth it," he said.
Although he was courteous today and willing to talk about his experiences, Kimmel said he is concerned that his case still is generating publicity.
"It just won't die. That's the bad part about it," he said. "You just can't keep beating a dead horse. It's a hard lesson to learn. I learned it the hard way. I can't see them (Dauer and Stewart) doing it again. They have too much to lose . . .
"I just want to get it behind me. This happened two years ago. People make mistakes in their lives and it shouldn't keep getting brought up again and again . . . "
In an unrelated development, the Times reported in its Wednesday's editions that Mark Liebl, serving a six-year sentence on charges of conspiring to dstribute cocaine, named 13 American League players as cocaine users. Liebl is quoted as saying orders for cocaine frequently were placed from Royals Stadium and delivered there.
Liebl said he snorted cocaine with 1982 Boston Red Sox Dennis Eckersley, Chuck Rainey and Mike Torrez; 1982 Chicago White Sox Ron LeFlore and Steve Trout; 1982 Oakland A's Tom Underwood and Mike Norris of the A's; an unidentified Minnesota Twins player, plus Kansas City's U.L. Washington and four Royals who were subsequently jailed for cocaine violations -- Willie Aikens, Willie Wilson, Vida Blue and Jerry Martin.
Either directly or through their agents, Eckersley, Rainey, Torrez, LeFlore, Trout and Underwood disputed Liebl's statement. Washington and Norris refused comment.
The Times reported in today's editions that at least eight players on the 1982 Expos were using cocaine, and the drug is cited by team officials as the reason Montreal did not win the division.
In the second of a series of articles on cocaine use among baseball players, the newspaper quoted John McHale, the Expos' president, as saying there was "no question in my mind . . . that (cocaine) cost us a chance to win." The paper quoted baseball managers and executives as saying cocaine use has become so widespread it now is a major factor in trade talks between teams.
St. Louis Manager Whitey Herzog told the newspaper that when he took over the last-place Cardinals in 1980, perhaps 40 percent of the team was using cocaine, and the drug was a factor in its poor play.