NEW YORK — Many major league baseball players used to snort cocaine in the basement of a house owned by a Kansas City man sentenced to six years for selling cocaine, calling the room the "Cooperstown Room," a published report said Wednesday.
The New York Times said in the third of a series of articles on cocaine use by major league baseball players that Mark Liebl, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine and using the telephone for unlawful acts, described the scene in an interview from the Fort Worth (Tex.) Correctional Institute.
The federal minimum-security prison in which Liebl is serving his six-year sentence is the same one in which four Kansas City Royals' players each served 81 days after the 1983 season.
The four players--Vida Blue, Jerry Martin, Willie Aikens and Willie Wilson, the only current member of the Royals--used cocaine with Liebl during the 1982 season and eventually brought around players from other American League teams, the Times said.
Liebl said the players would often stay up all night, snorting cocaine and talking baseball.
The newspaper said Liebl named former Red Sox pitchers Dennis Eckersley, Mike Torrez and Chuck Rainey, former White Sox Ron LeFlore and Steve Trout and former A's Mike Norris and Tom Underwood as players who used cocaine with him. Former Royals U.L. Washington and Tom Hood were also named.
Blue, Wilson, Aikens, Eckersley, Trout, Underwood and Washington are still active in baseball.
Liebl said the basement of his suburban Kansas City home was decorated with baseball memorabilia--autographed balls, bats and photographs of players.
"I remember we made a joke that they ought to put the room in Cooperstown," Liebl told the Times. "One of the players said that because a lot of baseball was talked and a lot of cocaine was done there."
In the Times account, Eckersley, Torrez, Trout, LeFlore, Underwood all denied Liebl's claims that they used cocaine with him. Rainey's agent said the former pitcher also denied the charge. Washington, now with the Montreal Expos, refused to comment, and Hood's agent said the former pitcher could not be reached.
Norris' agent said he was in a rehabilitation facility and would have no comment.
The Times said Liebl's assertions were supported by baseball officials, who interviewed him several times, including former baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn. Kuhn visited Liebl in prison in June 1984 and told the Times he considered the man, whom he described as "a real baseball fan," to be credible.