THE CONTINUING SAGA OF DR. MAZZA AND HIS "GOOD FRIENDS"
The Philadelphia Phillies, 1980 World Series winners, now have another distinction. According to a Reading, Pa. lawyer, Emmanuel Dimitriou, the Phillies—some of them, anyway—are also "champions in the art of lying." But looseness with the truth isn't the only sin being laid at these players' doorstep. There are suggestions they used amphetamines to add zip to their arms and wallop to their bats. And it appears they may have subjected friends to criminal prosecution to protect their own images.
These suspicions about members of baseball's best team were aroused last week during a climactic moment in the case involving prescriptions for amphetamines and diet pills issued in the names of Phillies Steve Carlton, Pete Rose, Randy Lerch and Larry Christenson, former Phillie Tim McCarver and the wives of two players, Jean Luzinski and Sheena Bowa. Since the case first made headlines last July, those seven had assured authorities—and were righteously backed up by the club's management—that they neither requested nor received the drugs. Their blanket denial was damaging to Dr. Patrick Mazza, the unpaid physician of the Phillies' Reading farm club, who had written the prescriptions. It also was damaging to Robert L. Masley, a Reading machinist, and his son, Robert M., who had picked up the drugs at various pharmacies, ostensibly for delivery to the seven whose names were on the bottles.
It was tempting to believe the Phillies' story. After all, the drugs had been prescribed by a licensed doctor, which made it unlikely the Phillies would have been subject to criminal prosecution had they acknowledged receiving them. What's more, some of the players were known to have been friends of Mazza and the Masleys. Would they have betrayed those friends merely to spare themselves possible embarrassment? Authorities evidently thought not: last November the Pennsylvania Department of Justice indicted Mazza on charges of illegally prescribing drugs and the two Masleys on charges of obtaining them.
February 16, 1981
The state's case against Mazza and the Masleys received its first test during a preliminary hearing on Jan. 7 in a courtroom situated in the basement of a Reading store, A & B Carpet Center. Acting as attorney for all three defendants, Dimitriou asked Christenson whether he received $7.72 worth of drugs in early 1979 from the elder Masley (he also asked the pitcher if "in your magnanimity, you gave him $8 and told him to keep the change?"). Dimitriou also asked Jean Luzinski if she received pills from Masley behind home plate at Veterans Stadium. Both witnesses said they didn't recall such transactions. But Mrs. Luzinski did testify that she had found amphetamines in a medicine cabinet at home but didn't know where they had come from. And Rose strained credibility when, upon being asked if he ever used "greenies," another name for amphetamines, he replied innocently, "What is a greenie?" This was the same Rose who was quoted in a Playboy interview as having admitted taking "greenies"—the word used in the interview—to give himself a lift before games.
The preliminary hearing resumed last week, and the united front maintained by the Phillie players and wives suddenly crumbled. Lerch changed his story and admitted he had twice received quantities of an antidepressant prescribed by Mazza and delivered to him by the elder Masley. A state drug agent instrumental in the investigation, Phoebe L. Teichert, testified that she had refused to sign the prosecution's complaints and had recommended that the Phillies be given lie-detector tests but was overruled and threatened with reprisals by her superiors. She intimated that she felt those superiors were guilty of a cover-up.
The Masleys also testified. The father said he delivered amphetamines to Lerch, Carlton and Christenson in or near the Phillie locker room in Veterans Stadium and also gave pills for Rose, Larry Bowa and Greg Luzinski to a clubhouse man, Pete Cera. The son said he took pills to Luzinski and Bowa. He said that Bowa had told him that during the baseball season, "that's when he really needs [amphetamines] for every game. That was a direct quote, you know, by Larry, up to three to four a game...." Mazza admitted he had made "a gross mistake" in not keeping proper records, but insisted he had written the prescriptions at the request of the ballplayers, two of whom. Luzinski and Bowa, had asked that the prescriptions be made out in their wives' names. And Cera told of having accepted vials of medicine for several players that the Masleys had delivered to the Phillie locker room.
Even before the hearing ended, the prosecutor, Donald E. Johnson, confronted by all this testimony that the Phillies had received the drugs, conceded that the charges against the Masleys should be dropped. District Justice Albert J. Gaspari then dismissed the charges against all the defendants. Mazza's troubles resumed, however, when the state medical board said it received a complaint accusing him of misuse of drugs and failure to keep adequate records.
But it was the Phillie Seven who now seemed most clearly on the spot. Some of them had been accused of receiving amphetamines at the ballpark, and one of them, Bowa, was said to have relied on them for a boost during games. Mazza complained that "my very, very good friends," as he described them, had been "willing to sacrifice me." The elder Masley expressed bitterness toward Luzinski, with whom he said he had met socially some 50 times a year. Masley now vowed he would never again speak to him. About the only good news for the Phillies was word from the Department of Justice that perjury charges in the case were unlikely. That decision notwithstanding, the inescapable conclusion in the courtroom beneath the A & B Carpet Center was that the seven had for more than six months been sweeping the truth under the rug.
While corruption in sports was scarcely unknown in bygone years, there seems to be an unusually large number of scandals, scams and unseemly incidents these days. In addition to the case of the Phillie Seven and the point-shaving scandal at Boston College (page 14), there have been recent allegations of widespread ticket scalping in the NFL, improper payments to basketball players at Wichita State, misuse of telephone credit cards by track athletes at Kansas State, use of non-athletes to rewrite term papers for athletes at Kansas, fixed races at Suffolk Downs, the tanking of matches in the Grand Prix Masters tennis tournament, the hitting of a rival player by North Carolina Basketball Coach Dean Smith, expense-account abuses by coaches at Purdue and Cincinnati and a $20-million-plus embezzlement in boxing.
Now these are all just allegations, remember. Still, what in the world is happening? The mere fact that there are more teams, more athletes and more sports events than ever before probably has something to do with the increase in suspected shenanigans. So, no doubt, does the unprecedented amount of money now at stake in sports. Another factor is a growing tendency by newspapers to treat sports as part of the real world and to assign investigative reporters to uncover abuses—and not just for the sports section, either. Thus, the allegations about Wichita State, Kansas State and Kansas first appeared in a series that ran for five days last week on the front page of The Kansas City Times.
It's comforting to know that reporters and law-enforcement officers are keeping an eye on the would-be corrupters of sports. At the same time, there's a danger that the seemingly endless allegations of wrongdoing will diminish the public's capacity for outrage. Or at least the right kind of outrage. Consider the reaction to The Kansas City Times series, as described by that paper's editor, Michael Davies. "Our stories upset a lot of rabid sports fans," he says. "Many seemed shocked. They tell us, 'What you are printing can't be true. Even if it is true, so what? Everybody else is doing the same thing.' "
As a possible water-conservation measure, drought-stricken New York City has proposed the digging of a well at Shea Stadium to provide water to keep the field green for Met games. SI Baseball Writer Steve Wulf suggests that the city begin its search for water at third base because, as every Met fan knows, there's already a big hole there.
MEOW AT M.U.
Sponsored by Ralston Purina Company, the recent women's intercollegiate gymnastics meet in Columbia, Mo. was called the Purina Cat Classic. The participants were the Pitt Pantherettes, Montana State Bobcats, Brigham Young Cougars, LSU Lady Tigers, Penn State Lady Lions and the host Missouri Tigers.
BUY ME NACHOS & CRACKER JACK
Peanuts typically account for only 5% to 10% of concession sales at big league ball parks, but it's hard to imagine baseball without them. Alas, during the 1981 season, concessionaires at Fenway Park and Atlanta Stadium will no longer be selling peanuts, and those at Texas' Arlington Stadium and Kansas City's Royal Stadium may drop them, too. Explaining the break with tradition, Rico Picardi, who handles the Fenway concessions, says, "The price is crazy and the peanuts are small and dried up. I'd feel guilty selling those things."
The situation described by Picardi was caused by dry spells last summer that cut the U.S. peanut crop by 40% from the year before and tripled wholesale prices. Even with an increase in imports, peanuts for candy and peanut butter are in short supply, and some zoo elephants have had to be content with bananas instead of peanuts. As for the kind of roasted-in-the-shell peanuts hawked at ball parks, Picardi's assessment is only too accurate. There is an excess of low-quality "pops," i.e., peanuts with shriveled meat or no meat at all. And the price of the peanuts is anything but peanuts. During the football season, a 2¾-ounce bag in Seattle's Kingdome, where the price had increased only from 45¬¨¬®¬¨¢ to 50¬¨¬®¬¨¢ since the opening of the stadium in 1976, was raised all the way to 75¬¨¬®¬¨¢. For the baseball season, prices are expected to rise from 60¬¨¬®¬¨¢ to 75¬¨¬®¬¨¢ (for a 2¼-ounce bag) in Minnesota, while a 90¬¨¬®¬¨¢ price (two ounces) is likely in Oakland. And it may be a dollar a bag (for 2¼ ounces) in St. Louis.
In Los Angeles, where the Dodgers sold an amazing three million bags last season—roughly one for each fan who passed through the turnstiles—peanuts are now in such short supply that Roger (Peanut Man) Owens, a vendor who makes a show of acrobatically flinging bags of goobers to customers, says forlornly, "I only hope I can keep throwing." Assuming peanuts are available at Dodger Stadium, the same three-ounce bag that last season sold for 50¬¨¬®¬¨¢ could go for a buck this year. By contrast, the concessionaire at San Diego Padre games will hold the price at 50¬¨¬®¬¨¢ but reduce the size of bags from three to 1½ ounces. A strikingly different marketing approach is being considered at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, where Bob Forbes of Volume Services, the concessionaire, says, "If a family of six comes to the park, they're not going to each buy a bag of peanuts. They'll buy one big bag and share it." Accordingly, Volume Services may introduce the "family pack," a one-pound bag that would sell for a small fortune and whose contents Mom and Dad could ration to the kids like caviar.
On the absence of peanuts at Red Sox games, Picardi says, vendors will "push the popcorn." In Atlanta, peanuts will be replaced by potato chips, corn chips and fried fatback. At ball parks still selling peanuts, fans who don't want to shell out for them will be offered alternatives. Thus, Cleveland will push nachos, cheese-topped tortilla chips, while Kansas City will offer nachos and pretzels. Milwaukee and Minnesota may introduce sunflower seeds. Though it is hoped the crisis will be eased when the next peanut crop is harvested in October, a shortage of good seed peanuts makes this uncertain. But everybody will be glad to know that Cracker Jack, the other half of the one-two combination heralded in the song Take Me Out to the Ball Game, has so far been spared any great upheaval. A company spokesman says that because of preexisting long-term contracts, its supply of peanuts, at least nine of which go into every Cracker Jack box, is assured for the foreseeable future.
THEY SAID IT
•Tom Landry, commenting on the fact that he's the only coach the Dallas Cowboys have ever had: "That's one way to look at it. The other is that I haven't had a promotion in 21 years."
•Abe Lemons, Texas basketball coach, noting that Arkansas Coach Eddie Sutton had kept a player out of a game as a disciplinary measure: "When I discipline them, I make them play."