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Hernandez Played on Cocaine High : Parker, Sorensen, Holland, Leonard Also Named as Users

September 07, 1985|Associated Press

PITTSBURGH — New York Mets first baseman Keith Hernandez and Dodger infielder Enos Cabell implicated more major league players Friday as having used cocaine, with Hernandez saying he once played a game under the drug's influence.

The names of outfielders Dave Parker of Cincinnati and Jeff Leonard of San Francisco, and pitchers Lary Sorensen of the Chicago Cubs and Al Holland of the Angels were mentioned in the federal trial of an accused drug dealer, along with former players J.R. Richard and Bernie Carbo. Holland and Leonard had been tied to drug-use previously.

Hernandez said he played a game under the influence of cocaine in 1980, a year he said baseball had a "love affair" with the drug.

"That was the year I was crazy. That was the year of my greatest use," he said.

Hernandez, who said he used the drug from 1980 to early 1983, said he believes the use of cocaine by ballplayers peaked in 1980 and had "declined tremendously" since then.

Cabell said he used cocaine "off and on" from 1978 until May 1984, with his greatest use coming during the 1981 season. "That was the strike year, we weren't playing and I had nothing to do," he said.

The trial of Curtis Strong, a one-time caterer for the Philadelphia Phillies, recessed until Monday, when Cabell was to resume his testimony.

Cabell said he shared some cocaine with Parker in his hotel room in Pittsburgh while Parker was with the Pirates and he was with Houston but mentioned no date.

"He gave it to me. He and I used it," Cabell said of Parker, who is scheduled to be a witness Monday.

Cabell said he used the drug with Richard when he was with Houston, and with Holland and Leonard when he was on the Giants.

Hernandez and Cabell were prosecution witnesses against Strong, who is accused of supplying athletes with cocaine.

Hernandez, who recently signed a five-year, $8.4-million contract with New York, said he used cocaine with former teammates Lonnie Smith, Joaquin Andujar, Sorensen and Carbo. Hernandez said Carbo introduced him to the drug in 1980.

And he said they were far from alone in using the substance.

"I think it was the love-affair years . . . It was pretty prevalent. I don't know the exact percentage, but it was widely used in 1980," he said.

Hernandez was questioned about the figure he gave in testimony before the federal grand jury that indicted Strong and six others on cocaine-trafficking charges. He estimated that up to 40% of major league players were using the drug in 1980.

Hernandez said of the figure: "I may be grossly wrong . . . It's declined tremendously since then." He said the decline was largely a reaction to the jailing in 1983 on drug-related charges of then Kansas City Royals Vida Blue, Willie Wilson, Willie Aikens and Jerry Martin.

Testifying under immunity from prosecution, he said he purchased cocaine from Strong in Philadelphia at a price of $300 for an eighth of an ounce, or 3 1/2 grams.

He admitted under cross-examination, though, that he never bought the drug directly from Strong in Pittsburgh, and bought it only through Smith in the city. Strong is on trial only for crimes allegedly committed in Pittsburgh.

When Hernandez finished testifying, he flew to Los Angeles to rejoin the Mets, who had a Friday night game with the Dodgers. He missed Wednesday's game in San Diego.

Hernandez, whose 1983 trade from the St. Louis Cardinals to the Mets was linked to his drug problem, said he began using cocaine extensively after the All-Star break in 1980. He said he used "massive" amounts of the addictive drug until it finally ceased to give him pleasure.

"I consider cocaine the devil on this earth," Hernandez said. "There is a strong emotional link to it. It took me 2 1/2 years to get away from it completely."

He said he tried to stop using it four or five times from 1980 to 1983 and has not used it since being traded to the Mets in June 1983.

He said that three weeks before being traded by the Cardinals, Manager Whitey Herzog threatened to trade or bench three unnamed players he suspected of using cocaine. Herzog gave the players one week to step forward, Hernandez said.

"I'll get rid of you. I'll trade you out of here, or I won't play you for the rest of the year," Hernandez quoted Herzog as saying.

The Cardinals did not immediately carry out the threat, he said, but less than one month later, Hernandez was traded, and Smith entered a drug rehabilitation center.

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