The trial of Curtis Strong, whom the prosecution characterized as a traveling cocaine salesman whose territory was major league baseball, is over. But a number of questions remain unanswered.
What actions, if any, will Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth take against the players who have admitted to using cocaine but had grants of immunity from prosecution? What about the other players named as drug users?
Were major league players actually dealing cocaine for profit, as the defense charged during the Strong trial?
What percentage of professional baseball players use cocaine or amphetamines?
Although Strong, a Philadelphia caterer, was convicted Friday on 11 of 14 cocaine-trafficking counts in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh, the legal proceedings continue as a result of a grand jury investigation into the sale of cocaine to major league players.
John Milner, one of the seven current or former players who testified against Strong, is expected to take the witness stand Monday in the trial of Robert McCue, another of the seven Pennsylvania men outside baseball who were indicted.
On Thursday, Dale Berra of the New York Yankees, the first player to testify in two of the trials, said he bought cocaine from Milner three or four times. Berra was not specific about when he bought the drug from Milner or whether Milner made a profit from the sales.
Milner testified during the Strong trial that he did not sell cocaine to other players for profit. U.S. Attorney J. Alan Johnson, who granted the players immunity in order to build cases against Strong and the other six men, said he will prosecute players "in a New York minute" if he discovers they sold drugs for profit.
Dave Parker of the Cincinnati Reds testified that he had heard rumors about players smuggling cocaine into the United States and selling it for profit, but that he, himself, had not done so.
When Berra testified during the Strong trial that Willie Stargell and Bill Madlock dispensed amphetamines in the Pirates clubhouse, defense attorney Adam Renfroe Jr. rhetorically asked why the players had not been prosecuted. Johnson rose out of his seat and told the court, "Your honor, the investigation continues."
Stargell and Madlock have denied dispensing amphetamines, even though Milner also testified they did so.
With the cases involving McCue and Shelby Greer -- another alleged cocaine trafficker who is expected to complete a plea bargain -- likely to be concluded by the end of this week, the only defendant remaining among the Pittsburgh Seven is Jeff Mosco, a bartender. His case probably will be scheduled soon.
Ueberroth announced a mandatory drug-testing program for all baseball personnel except the major league players the day the indictments were handed up in Pittsburgh. Mandatory drug testing for players is a matter for collective bargaining, and it is possible the issue eventually could be decided by an arbitrator.
Although the commissioner's office has remained silent throughout the proceedings in Pittsburgh, many expect Ueberroth to discipline the players, even though they had immunity from criminal prosecution. Joseph diGenova, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, called on Ueberroth to "throw them out of baseball," calling the players "overpaid, overrated, pampered, overlionized, spoiled brats who have corrupted a great game" in a speech to the Pentagon chapter of the Federal Bar Association.
Ueberroth has a recent precedent in powers granted to sports league commissioners to rule "in the best interests of the game."
In 1983, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle suspended four players for the first four games of that season because of their admission in court proceedings that they had purchased cocaine from alleged drug dealers. Two of the players, Ross Browner and Pete Johnson, had been granted immunity from prosecution.
In court, Browner admitted making 12 to 15 purchases and Johnson approximately 15, according to the NFL. The players who testified the past three weeks in Pittsburgh admitted to purchasing cocaine much more frequently than that. Parker testified that he arranged sales with Greer, his "primary source," for players on three National League teams and occasionally arranged through the Pittsburgh Pirates' traveling secretary for Greer to travel with the team.
Strong and Renfroe, who was cited by Judge Gustave Diamond for criminal contempt of court for what the judge described as "absolutely reprehensible" behavior during Thursday's closing arguments, also will be in court Monday, when the defense attorney will try to get his client free on bond pending an Oct. 21 sentencing.
Renfroe said he will appeal both Strong's conviction and his contempt citation. "The opera isn't over until the fat lady sings," he said. "The case of the United States versus Strong is far from over."