Now that A-Rod has admitted to the use of steroids to become A-Bod, I feel the need to come clean with you readers and nonreaders as well.
I used steroids in Little League during the ‘50s.
As the fastest base runner on our fourth-grade team, the Bears, I felt a lot of pressure to beef up a bit so I could challenge some of our long ball hitters on the club.
While I could stretch a single into a double, or a walk into a stolen base, I never could hit the baseball out of the infield unless we were using a Wiffle ball.
Using a real baseball, one that hurt when it hit my size 9 neck, I could not do much but pray while standing near the plate.
While reading medical magazines found in our elementary school nurse’s office, I learned that prednisone might beef up my face and help me gain some weight.
With added weight above and below my shoulders, I knew that it would just be a matter of days before I’d be taking two lunch pails to school, each day looking more and more like Ted Kluszewski.
Surely you remember Big Klu.
Kluszewski, whose name was intentionally misspelled on his Chicago White Sox jersey by owner Bill Veeck in 1959, was the first baseman for the Cincinnati Reds while I was trying to grow up and out on the outskirts of Columbus, Ohio.
During recess, all the guys wanted to be Big Klu, the first and only player for the Reds who got away with cutting off the sleeves of his uniform.
So much for just wearing your hat backwards to be cool, Junior.
Pull a Big Klu and abandon those tight sleeves constricting the blood flow in one’s large biceps and shoulders.
As a too little Little Leaguer, I wanted to restrict blood flow.
I wanted a big neck and big arms to accompany my already big mouth.
Isn’t that why we held our breath on sleepovers?
As it turned out for me, the prednisone which I stole from a young exchange student’s lunch pail, did not really beef me up, but it did cause indecisiveness, blurred vision and stretch marks.
That last one came back to haunt me in eighth-grade track while I was seen taking my sweats off to run the high hurdles.
One of our cheerleaders noticed my hair-free thighs, exclaiming in typical cheerleader fashion, “Jimmy, you have legs like a girl!”
Wonder if A-Rod ever got taunted, “Alex, you have legs like someone who doesn’t take steroids!”
Hall of Famer manager Leo Durocher was once asked to name the five strongest players in baseball.
Big Klu was not on Leo the Lip’s list.
When asked “Why no Klu?” Durocher sighed in response. “Kluszewski? I’m talking human beings!”
When I was 7 years old with stretch marks, Big Klu led the National League with 49 non-steroided homers.
I hit none.
But I sure had fun trying.