There have been nine players to hit sixty or more homeruns in a season. From —, a span of seventy-one years, only Babe Ruth and former New York Yankees outfielder, Roger Maris, had hit more than sixty homeruns. These three players have also been linked to steroids. In , the MLB orchestrated a sample test to determine how many players were on banned substances.
The results were eye-opening but the players on the list were anonymous. The MLB then instituted drug testing and suspensions. During the offseason, the owners and players approved stricter penalties for steroid users: fifty games for a first time offender, a hundred games for a second time offender and a lifetime ban for a third time offender. On March 17th, , various players were summoned to Capitol Hill to testify before Congress on steroids and other banned substances in the MLB.
This hearing would become a symbolic image as the war on PEDs waged on. Mitchell to lead an investigation into past steroid use by players. When the report was released on December 13th, , more than eighty former and current players, including former New York Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens were implicated.
Players like Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte, who were included in the report even though they had only used drugs sparingly, admitted to their guilt. As the steroid craze has died down, other PEDs have become more popular. The timing could not have been more paramount. This is the second time Rodriguez has been linked to PEDs, the first coming in a Sports Illustrated report , during which he admitted to using steroids as a member of the Texas Rangers from — Whenever we hear of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, the heart of the fan skips a beat.
Why do our favorite players have to cheat to prove they are solid major league players? However, these stories hit closer to home. In , Congress cracked down on anabolic steroids with the Anabolic Steroids Control Act , which effectively made them an illegal drug. The next year in , MLB Commissioner Fay Vincent made it clear in a memo that this was very much relevant to baseball.
Via ESPN. The possession, sale or use of any illegal drug or controlled substance by Major League players and personnel is strictly prohibited. Major League players or personnel involved in the possession, sale or use of any illegal drug or controlled substance are subject to discipline by the Commissioner and risk permanent expulsion from the game…. This prohibition applies to all illegal drugs and controlled substances, including steroids or prescription drugs for which the individual in possession of the drug does not have a prescription.
Like that, the league was put on notice that using steroids was against the rules. Any players who read the memo knew what the deal was. However, they also would have realized that the memo never said how juicers were going to be caught. Players weren't going to be tested for steroids, and the memo said that players with drug abuse problems would be kicked out of the league only after rehabilitation efforts were carried out.
The memo might as well have said: "Steroids are illegal now, but do us all a favor and just don't get caught, guys. The season saw noted juicer Jose Canseco lead the American League with 44 homers. Three years later in the strike-shortened season, the league's slugging percentage rose to. It was apparent that something unnatural was going on, and it would only get more obvious in the years to come.
There was plenty of power to go around in , but it was a mere appetizer for what would happen later in the s. The season proved to a historic one. A total of 17 players hit at least 40 home runs, a mark that still stands as a major league record. Brady Anderson, whose previous career-high had been 21 homers, launched 50 homers. Ken Caminiti came into the season with a career-high of 26 homers in a season, and he proceeded to launch 40 homers on his way to winning the NL MVP.
But there was still no testing and no clear-cut punishment for using steroids. The open invitation to use them was still, well, open. Naturally, the power surge didn't subside. A dozen players hit at least 40 homers in , with Mark McGwire leading the way with The next year saw as many as four players hit at least 50 homers for the first time in MLB history , with McGwire and Sammy Sosa both breaking Roger Maris' single-season record of A bottle of Androstenedione—a substance banned by the NFL, NCAA and the Olympics—was spotted in McGwire's locker midway through the year , but the ensuing controversy was only minor and it didn't get in the way of him hitting a record 70 home runs.
The power surge continued after McGwire and Sosa both topped 60 homers again in , and the league's slugging percentage equaled that of the season. In , the league's slugging percentage rose to a record-high. By , MLB knew it needed to do something. There just wasn't much the league could do besides aim for an easy target. Major League Baseball couldn't implement drug-testing at the major league level all on its own in the early s.
That would have required an agreement with the MLB Players Association, which at the time was charged with protecting the interests of a long list of juicers. Per MLB. The system of penalties was as follows:. The five-strikes-and-out system didn't do much to deter minor league users. In , baseball revealed that it had suspended a total of 38 minor leaguers in the years since testing had been put in place.
Meanwhile at the major league level, MLB's warning shot was largely ignored. Bonds and Sosa were on the juice at the time, and A-Rod eventually admitted in that he was too. Major League Baseball still had a problem on its hands, and it wasn't until the next year that the union agreed that something needed to be done about it.
By the time the season rolled around, the suspicion over steroids in baseball was growing. As much as they were enjoying the remarkable feats of Steroid Era stars, fans were becoming increasingly wary of how these feats were being accomplished. That summer, Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated helped turn the whispers into shouts.
With a little help from Ken Caminiti and other players, Verducci penned an article that contained the following punch to the gut:. Steroid use, which a decade ago was considered a taboo violated by a few renegade sluggers, is now so rampant in baseball that even pitchers and wispy outfielders are juicing up—and talking openly among themselves about it.
According to players, trainers and executives interviewed by SI over the last three months, the game has become a pharmacological trade show. Baseball's reaction was swift. The testing got underway in , but it was only "Survey Testing. The purpose was simply to find out how many players were juicing. Baseball would only take the next step if more than five percent of the league was using. In November of , the results were in. Sure enough, more than five percent of the league was dirty.
That was MLB's excuse to start mandatory testing in , but the new policy was light on deterrents.