Enos Cabell and star pitcher J.R. Richard, then teammates on the Houston Astros, used cocaine regularly during the 1980 season right up to the time Richard suffered a career-ending stroke, Cabell testified today in U.S. District Court.
Meanwhile, the third day of the cocaine-trafficking trial of Philadelphia caterer Curtis Strong produced testimony from former Pirate Dale Berra that placed Strong in the Pittsburgh clubhouse at Three Rivers Stadium during the 1982 season.
Berra, the fourth player to be called to testify, named former Pirates Lee Lacy, John Milner and Dave Parker and current Pittsburgh pitcher Rod Scurry as players with whom he had used cocaine. Berra testified that Strong had access to the clubhouse because of his friendship with Parker, Milner and Lacy.
In reply to a question by assistant U.S. Attorney James Ross, Berra said he said hello to Strong in the clubhouse but did not speak further to him because Manager Chuck Tanner admonished him, "Don't talk to that gentleman." Defense attorney Adam Renfroe Jr. objected to the answer as hearsay, and U.S. District Judge Gustave Diamond ordered the answer stricken from the record.
Berra also testified that Shelby Greer, whose trial on 12 counts of cocaine-trafficking charges is scheduled here later this month, had access to the Pirates' clubhouse at their Bradenton, Fla., training base because of his friendship with Parker.
Parker, Lacy, Milner and Scurry are among at least 12 current or former major league players who testified with immunity before a grand jury that investigated cocaine sales to major league baseball players. On May 31, it indicted seven men outside baseball, including Strong, who is charged with 16 counts.
Berra's testimony, however, took the sale of the drug out of hotel rooms and bars and into ballparks. Although he testified he did not buy cocaine from Strong in the Western District of Pennsylvania, Berra answered Ross that he bought the drug from four of the other men indicted here, including purchases in the parking lot at Three Rivers Stadium, and from a clubhouse man at the Pirates' Portland, Ore., farm club.
Unlike Berra, who also named three persons outside of baseball and this trial from whom he purchased cocaine from 1979 to 1984, Cabell was a most uncooperative witness during 2 1/2 hours of cross-examination by Renfroe. Cabell disclosed more details about his use of cocaine with Richard than anyone else.
At one point, Renfroe, trying to discredit Cabell's testimony, asked him, "So you say you're not coming to court voluntarily?"
"You've got to be kidding," Cabell replied.
" . . . I'm sitting up here and embarrassing myself before everybody else in the world. I have to pay for it, and my family has to pay for it."
Then, Renfroe asked about Richard, who tried a comeback with the Astros but is no longer in baseball.
"Isn't it true J.R. Richard had a stroke because he used cocaine?" asked Renfroe during one particularly testy exhchange.
"I don't know," Cabell replied. "You're the doctor."
Then, Cabell confirmed that he and Richard used cocaine together regularly "only in the first part of 1980." Richard, whose record in 1979 was 18-13 with 313 strikeouts, suffered the stroke after the All-Star Game the following season. Attempts to reach Richard today were unsuccessful.
At the beginning of his cross-examination of Cabell, Renfroe produced a newspaper clipping about Dick Davis, whom Cabell testified had introduced him to Strong in Philadelphia when Davis was a Phillie in 1979. According to the clipping, Davis did not join the Phillies until 1981.
"I made a mistake on the year," Cabell replied.
Asked by Renfroe whether he was traded because of his cocaine use, Cabell replied, "No, not really. It was my lawyer's fault. He got me traded. He said I needed a change of atmosphere."
Berra, 28, who was traded to the New York Yankees last winter, testified he first used cocaine at a 1979 New Year's Eve party. Berra said he used cocaine most frequently during the summer of 1984 when he was on the disabled list with an elbow injury.
"I had a lot of time on my hands for the first time during the summer in 10 years," he said. "I thought it was time to do some."
He said he had not used the drug since October of last year. Asked if he had used cocaine as a Yankee, Berra said, "Absolutely not."
He described buying a gram for $90 from the clubhouse man in Portland and going back to his apartment and using it with Scurry, who admitted his cocaine problem a year ago and underwent rehabilitation.
Berra told of a 1980 trip to Puerto Rico for the Roberto Clemente Memorial Series when he asked Parker if he used cocaine, and Parker did not answer him at that time. The players had adjoining rooms and, according to Berrra, that night Parker opened his door as he used the cocaine, and said, "Does this answer your question?"
Berra said from 1979 to 1983, his use of cocaine was "at a very minimal level, once a month -- not even that." Asked by Ross whether he had a cocaine problem, Berra said, "Anytime you use cocaine it's a problem. I had a problem."
Berra recalled a 1982 trip into Philadelphia, when he, Lacy, Milner and Parker went into the side room of a suite at the Franklin Plaza Hotel after their flight landed to buy cocaine from Strong, while Willie Stargell and several coaches ate in another room.
Renfroe tried to discredit Berra, son of former Yankees catcher and manager Yogi Berra, by asking about his father's reaction to the news his son sullied the family's reputation by using cocaine.
"He was very supportive of me," Berra replied. "Obviously, it wasn't an easy thing to do (to tell Yogi). But he's been a good father to me his whole life. He accepted it and stood behind me."