Field of Schemes


Former senator George Mitchell has entered the sportswriting pantheon with his blockbuster Report to the Commissioner of Baseball of an Independent Investigation Into the Illegal Use of Steroids and Other Performance Enhancing Substances by Players in Major League Baseball (MLB, 409 pp., free). But how does Mitchell’s writing match up with our national pastime’s other great lyricists? The Voice offers some literary comparisons.


Albert Spalding, America’s National Game : “[The American Ball Player] may be a veritable Beau Brummel in social life. He may be the Swellest Swell of the Smart Set in Swelldom; but when he dons his Base Ball suit, he says goodbye to society, doffs his gentility, and becomes—just a Ball Player!”

George Mitchell: “Perez told baseball officials ‘. . . that virtually every player on the Marlins was “doing something” ranging from steroids and greenies, to marijuana, etc. He also claimed that every pitcher in Montreal’s bullpen was on some form of steroid.’ ”


Damon Runyon, in the New York American : “Observe, now, the teaming third inning, done in the lingual fashion of the times. Devore singled to the infield, Balenti’s brief bobble helping some. Doyle tripled and Devore scored. Doyle scored on a wild pitch, which bounced off McLean’s toe, and after Snodgrass and Murray had gone out in order, Merkle crashed his homer into the bleachers.”

George Mitchell: “Karchner declined to identify the players. He said that one of the players brought the steroids to the apartment but was afraid of needles and therefore asked the second player to administer the shot. The second player injected the first player with steroids in the buttocks and then injected himself.”


David Halberstam, Summer of ’49 : “On the train, Williams practiced his swing in the aisles, not with bats but with the only thing available—pillows from the sleeping car. He was a boy living his dreams . . . ‘Bobby,’ he kept telling Doerr, ‘I’m going to be the greatest hitter that ever lived.'”

George Mitchell: “At the beginning of that year, Radomski told Hundley that if he used steroids, he would hit 40 home runs. Hundley hit 41 home runs in 1996, having never hit more than 16 in any prior year. After the season, Radomski said, Hundley took him out to dinner.”


Roger Angell, Season Ticket : “Glum descendant clouds swept in, accompanied by a panoply of Lake Ontario ring-billed gulls (a celebrated and accursed local phenomenon), who took up late-comer places upon the long rows of backless aluminum benches in center right field and then settled themselves thickly across the outfield swamplands as well, where they all stood facing to windward, ready for a fly ball, or perhaps for a visiting impressionist French film director (‘Quai des Jays,’ ‘Toronto Mon Amour’) to start shooting.”

George Mitchell: “Later that summer, Clemens asked McNamee to inject him with Winstrol, which Clemens supplied. . . . McNamee injected Clemens approximately four times in the buttocks over a several week period with needles that Clemens provided. Each incident took place in Clemens’s apartment at the SkyDome.”


Roger Kahn, The Boys of Summer : “Edwin Donald Snider was the full name, but Duke suited. His hair had started graying when he was twenty-five, but his body bespoke supple youth. As Duke moved in his long-striding way, one saw the quarterback, the baseball captain, the Olympian. Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it.

George Mitchell: “When Radomski asked him about his increased size, Dykstra admitted to taking steroids. Radomski also recalled that Dykstra’s weight fluctuated during spring training. He stated that members of the Mets’ management discussed Dysktra’s weight fluctuations with the team’s athletic trainers and that ‘the trainers would just laugh.’ “

Most Popular