As the sporting industry exploded in the 1920s, athletic trainers and their charges immediately saw the possibilities of using his [Brown-Sequard's] research. Even the Big Bambino himself, Babe Ruth, injected himself with extract from a sheep's testicles, hoping for increased power at the plate (and in the bedroom). He attempted this only once, and it made him incredibly ill; the Yankees covered the story by telling the press that the Babe just had one of his famous bellyaches. Even though the Yankees tend to celebrate all things Babe Ruth, they have never, to my knowledge, had "Sheep Testicles Day" at the stadium.This claim comes from page 150 of Dave Zirin's 2007 book, Welcome to the Terrordome: The Pain, Politics and Promise of Sports. I don't know his source, but knowing this about Ruth isn't surprising.
Performance-enhancing drugs have been a part of baseball for at least 120 years.
Way back in 1889, James "Pud" Galvin -- then 32 years old -- injected himself with a testosterone concoction derived primarily from the testicles of a guinea pig and a dog.
It was known as the Brown-Séquard Elixir and his use was common knowledge. On August 14, 1889, the Washington Post reported:
Galvin was one of the subjects at a test of the Brown-Sequard elixir at a medical college in Pittsburgh on Monday. If there still be doubting Thomases who concede no virtue in the elixir, they are respectfully referred to Galvin's record in yesterday's Boston-Pittsburgh game. It is the best proof yet furnished of the value of the discovery.According to this blog, after the injections, Galvin pitched a shutout and knocked in three runs with a double and a triple.
Galvin was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1965, 63 years after his death.
On August 23, 1889, less than two weeks after the above Post story, the New York Times reported on the controversy regarding the effectiveness of the elixir. According to Dr. Henry Loomis, "the fluid is potent enough to increase the strength of the human organism, presumably in old men, not by structural change, but by nutritive modification ... a consequent recovery of former power by the tissues may supervene". One patient received "four injections of thirty minims each of the elixir every two days".
Professor Brown-Sequard recently read a most remarkable paper before the Biological Society of Paris. The aged professor believes he has discovered the secret of perpetual youth. The source is in young animals, guinea pigs, dogs, etc. — from which, while under the influence of anaesthetics, he abstracts organic matter, reduces it to a pulp in a mortar, dissolves all that is soluble in water, then subjects this solution to further chemical action, and finally injects it under the skin of the arm in doses of 1 c.c. at a time. The professor injected the matter into his own arm, and he reports that on the day after he had taken two injections, he felt completely transformed. He could work better, sleep better, and digest his food more perfectly. His appetite improved, and he gained 14 1bs. in weight. It true, these results may well be called extraordinary.Roger Abrams's book, The Dark Side of the Diamond; Gambling, Violence, Drugs and Alcoholism in the National Pastime, discusses Galvin's drug use. About a year ago, Abrams wrote:
It did not have much of an impact on his performance as he neared the end of his career, at best a placebo effect. For our purposes it is useful to note that no one said a peep about the event. At a time when cocaine was legal and could be ordered by mail or purchased at your local store, steroid-like injections for ballplayers were just matter-of-fact.Tom House has said he was one of many players in the 1960s and 70s who took amphetamines, human growth hormone and various steroids.
I pretty much popped everything cold turkey. We were doing steroids they wouldn't give to horses.House estimated that six or seven pitchers on every staff in were experimenting with steroids in the 70s.
In Ball Four, Jim Bouton wrote:
I've tried a lot of other things through the years -- like butabolidin, which is what they give to horses. And D.M.S.O. -- dimethylsulfoxide. Whitey Ford used that for a while. You rub it on with a plastic glove and as soon as it gets on your arm you can taste it in your mouth. It's not available anymore, though. Word is it can blind you. I've also taken shots -- novocaine, cortisone and xylocaine. Baseball players will take anything. If you had a pill that would guarantee a pitcher 20 wins but might take five years off his life, he'd take it.Bouton also mentions at one point the players were running low on greenies: "One of our lads is going to have a bunch of greenies mailed to him by some of the guys on the Red Sox."