When a former baseball player comes forward and claims he used illegal drugs during his playing days, the first thing people naturally assume is that he's referring to steroids or some other performance enhancers. But Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd referred to something slightly different during a recent interview.
"Oh yeah, at every ballpark," Boyd said. "There wasn't one ballpark that I probably didn't stay up all night, until four or five in the morning, and the same thing is still in your system. It's not like you have time to go do it while in the game, which I had done that."
"Some of the best games I've ever, ever pitched in the major leagues I stayed up all night; I'd say two-thirds of them. If I had went to bed, I would have won 150 ballgames in the time span that I played. I feel like my career was cut short for a lot of reasons, but I wasn't doing anything that hundreds of ball players weren't doing at the time; because that's how I learned it."
Listen to the interview:
According to Boyd, he used the drug prior to at least two thirds of his games during his professional career. Boyd also reveals to Miller that he was never asked to take a drug test during his career and that many teammates knew of his cocaine habit.
"All of them knew and the ones that cared came to me," Boyd recalled. "The Dwight Evans and Bill Buckners... It was the veteran ball players. Some guys lived it. They knew what you were doing, and the only way they knew was they had to have tried it too."
That Boyd had a taste for the nightlife should hardly be a surprise. After all, his nickname is inspired by fact that "oil" is slang for beer in his homestate of Mississippi. Boyd started 207 games over 10 seasons in the majors, the majority of which he spent with the Boston Red Sox. Upon retiring, his career record stood at 78-77 with one World Series appearance, a loss in game 3 of the 1986 World Series against the Mets while he was with Boston.
"I lived through my life and I feel good about myself," Boyd told WBZ NewsRadio 1030. "I have no regrets about what I did or said about anything that I said or did. I'm a stand-up person and I came from a quality background of people."
While Boyd's cocaine admissions will certainly draw attention before Spring Training begins for the 2012 season, it is worth pointing out that stimulants were a part of the daily life in the majors long before anyone was concerned about steroids or HGH. Known as "greenies," amphetamines were supposedly rampantly used in MLB clubhouses going back at least as far Willie Mays. In 2002, former National League MVP Ken Caminiti told Sports Illustrated that only one or two players per team would play any given game "naked," or without some sort of stimulant to help them combat the rigors of the 162-game schedule.
Boyd's illicit drug use seems to have been far more of a lifestyle choice than a performance-based one. Surprisingly, Boyd is not the first pitcher to admit to pitching under the influence of recreational drugs. Former Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis claimed that he pitched his 1970 no-hitter against the San Diego Padres while on LSD.