The tentacles from baseball’s years of rampant steroids use have stretched to every corner of the game and ensure the controversy will remain within the sport for years to come. When the Washington Nationals make the hiring of Matt Williams as their new manager official, they will hold a new place in that unceasing stain on the sport.
Williams, a 17-year major league third baseman, will be the first admitted performance-enhancing drug user, the first former player whose name appeared in the Mitchell Report on drug use in the game, to be named manager of a major league club.
Williams, 47, became embroiled in the performance-enhancing drug scandal because of drug purchases he admittedly made from a Florida clinic at the end of his career. In November 2007, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Williams had purchased more than $11,600 worth of steroids and human growth hormone in 2002, citing business records the paper obtained from a confidential source. MLB began testing for steroids in 2003 and banned HGH in 2005.
Williams played for the San Francisco Giants for 10 seasons, from 1987 to 1996, the Cleveland Indians for one year and the Arizona Diamondbacks for the final six years of his career. He retired in 2003.
During spring training in 2002, Williams ordered $5,693 worth of testosterone cypionate, growth hormone, clomiphene, Novarel and syringes from the Palm Beach Rejuvenation Center, according to the Chronicle. In May, he ordered $6,000 worth of testosterone cypionate, nandrolone, clomiphene, Novarel and syringes. The prescriptions were written by a dentist, according to the paper.
Williams, who worked as a Diamondbacks’ broadcaster at the time the report came out, told the Chronicle that a doctor had advised him to use human growth hormone to heal an ankle injury he suffered during spring training. He said he was unaware the drugs had been prescribed by a dentist and that he stopped taking them during the season.
“I didn’t like the effects it had on my body,” Williams told the paper in 2007.
The sport has met admitted PED users with varying degrees tacit acceptance and admonishment. Onetime Oakland A’s and St. Louis Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire was banished for several seasons and has gained no traction in his bid for Hall of Fame enshrinement. But he has served, without scorn, as a hitting coach with the Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers for the past four seasons.
After Williams admitted to using HGH, he continued his post-playing career. He became an ambassador for the Diamondbacks, with whom he won the 2001 World Series. He joined Arizona’s coaching staff in 2010. Now he will become the Nationals’ manager.