March 30, 2007
Contact:
Anna Christopher, NPR
 | 

MLB PLAYER AND DETROIT TIGER GARY SHEFFIELD
DISCUSSES STEROIDS, TRAINING WITH BONDS
AND 20 YEARS IN THE GAME
ON NPR NEWS ALL THINGS CONSIDERED
TODAY, FRIDAY, MARCH 30

TRANSCRIPT BELOW; AUDIO TO BE AVAILABLE AT WWW.NPR.ORG



March 30, 2007; Washington, D.C. Ė Major League Baseball player Gary Sheffield, in an interview with Robert Siegel airing today on NPR News All Things Considered, denies he ever knowingly used steroids. He says he did not know whether a cream he used on his knees Ė reportedly developed by BALCO Ė contained steroids.

Mr. Sheffield, now an outfielder with the Detroit Tigers, says: ďThe thing is, Iím not educated on medicines and what have you and I feel like just putting cream on my knees is not going to be any controversy. You know, I donít think anybody that would have been put in my shoes would have thought that.Ē

When asked if he paid $10,000 for the cream, Mr. Sheffield says: ďIf you show me where I paid $10,000, then Iíll show you a magic trick, but I never paid anybody $10,000. You know, the only thing I paid for is letting somebody train me; you know, Iíll pay a trainer. You know, but youíre talking about paying for some cream or something else, you know, you got the wrong guy.Ē

When asked about Barry Bonds nearing the career homerun record, and Bondsí alleged steroid abuse, Mr. Sheffield says: ďWell, the thing is, is that if youíre going to investigate Bonds, investigate the people that own the record. You know, what was in baseball then, itís the same thing thatís in baseball today. And itís just that now people want to expose him when their heroesí records are going down.ď

When asked about the mental game of baseball, Mr. Sheffield says: ďAs a younger player, I used to Ė everything goes to closing in on you, you know, you start looking at 0 for 10 and before you know it, youíre thinking about, okay, if I go 0 for this game, then Iím going to be 0 for 15Ö And so by thinking like that, you wind up going 0 for 15. But as an older player, Iíve come to realize you have to have a short memory. You know, if you had a bad game, that donít mean youíre going to have a bad game the next day; you can go out and have a bad game today and go out and hit two home runs with four hits, and itíll erase that bad game. So I just look at it as whatever I do on a negative side of the game, Iíll go and try to turn it around to a positive the next day to make up for it.Ē

Mr. Sheffield on his potential to break 500 home runs: ďYou know, thatís a lot of home runs. I also have the opportunity to drive in 2,000 runs, you know, get 3,000 hits, and I think only three players in the history of the game has done that. So Iím looking forward to it.Ē

A rushed transcript of the interview with Mr. Sheffield is below. All excerpts must be credited to NPR News All Things Considered. Television usage must include on-screen credit with NPR logo. The audio of the interview will be made available at www.NPR.org at approximately 7:00 p.m. ET.

All Things Considered, NPR's signature afternoon news magazine, is hosted by Melissa Block, Michele Norris, and Robert Siegel and reaches nearly 11 million listeners weekly. To find local stations and broadcast times, visit www.NPR.org.

-NPR-

[INTRO OMITTED]

GARY SHEFFIELD: Yeah. That was part of my life-growing experiences. You know, I was kind of a, you know, one of those guys where, you know, I used to get upset pretty easy, you know, when I was coming up as a kid and I had a lot of fire burning. You know, it was one of those days where my uncle was pitching, which is Dwight Goodman Ė

ROBERT SIEGEL: You should explain, your uncleís only just a few years older than you are, but Ė

MR. SHEFFIELD: Yeah, heís four years older than me. And he was pitching in a senior league and I chose to watch him pitch opposed to going to practice. And then when I got to the park the next day, my coach told me I wasnít pitching and I got upset and I go out the back and went after my coach. And then the guys restrained me and everything and then after that they kicked me off the team.

So, you know, I had to watch, you know, these guys go back to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, which they lost four to two, but I felt like if I could have been there, I could have made a difference and everything. So thatís something that drove me for probably the rest of my life, you know, to be the player that I am today.

MR. SIEGEL: But how do you explain, though, to baseball fans who have followed your great career in major league baseball, but who hear the story of your being a hot-headed boy of 12 who waves a bat at the coach and say, sounds like Sheffield, sounds like a guy with a short fuse: thatís Gary Sheffield.

MR. SHEFFIELD: Right.

MR. SIEGEL: What do you say to that?

MR. SHEFFIELD: Well, you know, you donít have a short fuse where you canít control it and still play 18 years Ė well, actually 20 years and counting Ė so I mean, yeah, I might, you know, have a lot of fire burning in me but I do it with control.

MR. SIEGEL: This season Ė or more likely next season Ė youíll break 500 home runs.

MR. SHEFFIELD: Right. You know, thatís a lot of home runs. I also have the opportunity to drive in 2,000 runs, you know, get 3,000 hits, and I think only three players in the history of the game has done that. So Iím looking forward to it.

MR. SIEGEL: All right, letís talk though about what is clearly going to be the biggest milestone that anyone in major league baseball reaches this year. Itís going to be the career homerun record and Barry Bonds almost certain could break it this year.

MR. SHEFFIELD: Right.

MR. SIEGEL: Barry Bonds, super controversial figure right now in major league baseball.

MR. SHEFFIELD: Well, absolutely, I mean, but the fact of the matter is, you know, god willing, heís going to break the record and, you know, I hope he do it.

MR. SIEGEL: You trained with Bonds for a while and one of the questions about Bonds is, itís not god willing that heís playing at this time, itís thanks to a lot of drugs that heís able to play this time.

MR. SHEFFIELD: (Chuckles.)

MR. SIEGEL: People are saying if that were the case, should major league baseball honor a record thatís attained by using a lot of performance-enhancing drugs Ė if that were true?

MR. SHEFFIELD: Well, the thing is is that if youíre going to investigate Bonds, investigate the people that own the record. You know, what was in baseball then, itís the same thing thatís in baseball today. And itís just that now people want to expose him when their heroesí records are going down. So Ė

MR. SIEGEL: But the heroís record whoís going down is Hank Aaron, who was your hero growing up as a kid.

MR. SHEFFIELD: Right. Absolutely, but the thing was that it wasnít per se the Hank Aaron record, it was more the Babe Ruth record.

MR. SIEGEL: When you write about your year of training with Bonds, you say he got from BALCO, the San Francisco Bay Area Laboratory, some cream that you put on your knees. He was driving you hard, I mean, like a trainer, it sounds, Bonds. And you said, I thought it was like Neosporin, something you might get at the drug store. But your knee did heal very quickly.

MR. SHEFFIELD: Well, yeah, I mean, but the thing is Iím not educated on medicines and what have you and I feel like just putting cream on my knees is not going to be any controversy. You know, I donít think anybody that would have been put in my shoes would have thought that.

MR. SIEGEL: But I read your chapter Ė I read your book and I read the chapter about training with Bonds and Bondsí trainer Anderson who got the cream Ė but in the book that the reporters from San Francisco wrote, A Game of Shadows, they say that you paid $10,000 for the stuff you were getting from Anderson. That couldnít have been Neosporin; if you were being charged that kind of money, itís not over the counter salves that youíre buying.

MR. SHEFFIELD: (Chuckles.) Well, if you show me where I paid $10,000, then Iíll show you a magic trick, but I never paid anybody $10,000. You know, the only thing I paid for is letting somebody train me; you know, Iíll pay a trainer. You know, but youíre talking about paying for some cream or something else, you know, you got the wrong guy.

MR. SIEGEL: I want to ask you something about the nature of the game of baseball as opposed to other sports. If you had the greatest season at bat Ė for batting average that we can imagine you did 400, and that would mean youíd make out 60 percent of the time Ė thereíd be more failures than successes when you play the game.

MR. SHEFFIELD: Right.

MR. SIEGEL: You have to be prepared to go up to the plate knowing it is statistically more likely than not that youíll make out when you go up to the plate, even being a great player.

MR. SHEFFIELD: Well, despite knowing that you are going to fail, you gotta go up there with the attitude thinking youíre going to succeed because if you go up there with the attitude that youíre gonna fail, youíre gonna fail. So itís one of those ironic things that you know you have 10 at bats to do it in, so you know you got 10 at bats to get your three hits, so you know, when you go 0 for 1 or 0 for 2, you ainít all that worried, but if youíre 0 for 10, thatís when you start looking at things a little different.

MR. SIEGEL: When you say that, what is that like? What happens mentally when you go 0 for 10 and youíre now in a slump, we say?

MR. SHEFFIELD: Well, as a younger player, I used to Ė everything goes to closing in on you, you know, you start looking at 0 for 10 and before you know it, youíre thinking about, okay, if I go 0 for this game, then Iím going to be 0 for 15.

MR. SIEGEL: Right.

MR. SHEFFIELD: And so by thinking like that, you wind up going 0 for 15. But as an older player, Iíve come to realize you have to have a short memory. You know, if you had a bad game, that donít mean youíre going to have a bad game the next day; you can go out and have a bad game today and go out and hit two home runs with four hits, and itíll erase that bad game. So I just look at it as whatever I do on a negative side of the game, Iíll go and try to turn it around to a positive the next day to make up for it.

MR. SIEGEL: When you say youíve gotta have a short memory, on the other hand, you can recount how the little league team came back from 41 to 42 against Taiwan when you were 11 years old and you almost made it back, but lost at 43, obviously.

MR. SHEFFIELD: Right.

MR. SIEGEL: And baseball players have encyclopedic memories of whatís happened to them in their careers.

MR. SHEFFIELD: Right. Well, we do. We do. But I mean, as far as like your struggles, youíve gotta understand the difference, though, youíve gotta be able to distinguish the two. You know, youíve gotta be able Ė certain moments in your life that youíre going to be able to cherish forever, thereís things youíre going to always remember. But there are moments in at bats that you donít want to remember, you want to put out your mind as quick as possible because if you look at how a pitcher dominated you and you keep that in your memory bank, then other pitchers are going to dominate you. So those are things you just have to get out your mind and move forward.

MR. SIEGEL: Well, Gary Sheffield, thank you very much for talking with us today.

MR. SHEFFIELD: All right, thanks for having me.

MR. SIEGEL: And good luck with the Tigers.

MR. SHEFFIELD: All right, buddy.

(END)