New Capital shelves his demons

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:19 PM ET

EDMONTON - When the Edmonton Capitals take to the field for their home opener next week, the player at ground zero of one of the biggest scandals in baseball history will be starting in left field.

No, not Shoeless Joe Jackson.

Larry Bigbie.

A big leaguer who spent some time with the St. Louis Cardinals, Baltimore Orioles, Colorado Rockies and L.A. Dodgers, Bigbie was square one for what evolved into the Mitchell Report and a lengthy list of baseball players being named as steroid-takers and admitting guilt.

Bigbie’s name appeared 93 times in the Mitchell Report. Seven full pages were devoted to him, one fewer than Roger Clemens.

In his case, beside the name Larry Bigbie in the report are the words: “Admitted to purchasing and using a variety of performance-enhancing substances from (Kirk) Radomski from 2001 to 2005, including human growth hormone Deca Durabolin, Sustanon, testosterone and anti estrogen.”

Now he’s headed here to play one last year of pro baseball. For all the right reasons.

It’s only been a couple of years since it was all the biggest story in sports. But already the name Larry Bigbie has all but been forgotten.

Now Bigbie feels free to play the game without blame and has chosen here with the Capitals in independent league baseball as the place to do it.

“I just want to go out on a good note,” Bigbie said in a cellphone interview with the Edmonton Sun from Yuma where the Capitals completed a series against the Scorpions Tuesday night.

“I went to Japan (when the Mitchell Report came out) and was injured over there. I didn’t play last year,” he explained. “I had a sour taste in my mouth. I didn’t want to go out like that.”

There’s no real money in independent league baseball. The salary cap of teams in the Golden League is less than $100,000.

“It’s not about the money. I already made my money in baseball. I just wanted to play one more year to enjoy playing the game. You get away from that. I did some things I wouldn’t do again because I got away from that.

“I thought I was done. I wasn’t going to try to go back on that road through triple A and try to get back to the big leagues that way. And that wasn’t for any reason involving the Mitchell Report.

“I just wanted one last year to enjoy playing baseball.”

Bigbie almost made it to opening day in Edmonton without becoming a story again.

“Quite a few guys on the team didn’t even know about it,” said Lou Pote, the former major league pitcher who married a Sherwood Park girl and is back for another season playing the game for the love of it with the Capitals at the end of his career.

“He’s been upfront with them. He’s told them ‘It was something I did. It was a mistake I made. I regret doing it.’ He advised them not to do what he did,” said Pote.

It’s a sorry story.

When he was with the Orioles, Bigbie befriended a man by the name of Mike Boydon who, unknown to him at the time, was an informant of the FBI. He gave Boydon access to the world of professional baseball.

And one day he told him he took performance-enhancing drugs.

Boyden went so far as to dig through Bigbie’s trash and find a used syringe.

This led to trainer Radomski, the man who supplied him with steroids and HGH which led to Brian McNamee and to Roger Clemens and a baseball scandal story so big that most forgot where it started — with a fringe major leaguer who took the stuff trying to stay in the show.

Referred to by some as the “major league snitch” and by others as “the most important man in baseball,” Bigbie arrived in Japan on Feb. 7, 2008, one week before The Year of the Rat began on the Japanese zodiac, to play for the Yokohama Bay Stars.

“I needed to get away,” Bigbie said upon arrival.

He wasn’t banned from baseball for taking steroids but he felt he would essentially be persona non grata for breaking the code and spilling the secrets.

“I was done. My name was done,” he also said back then.

But now he says that was yesterday and yesterday’s gone.

“For me it’s all old news. Nothing came of it. You look back at it and not much was accomplished,” he said of the Mitchell Report.

“Now I just want to come to Edmonton and play baseball for the love of the game again, have some fun and hopefully win a championship with these guys and go out with a good taste in my mouth.”

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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