May 23, 2013
And here's the full roster.
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Monday, November 05, 2012
Twenty years ago today, former Pirates reliever Rod Scurry died due to drug addiction. Officially, it was a heart attack that killed him, but even more officially it was a cocaine-induced heart attack. Thus ended one of the saddest stories—maybe the saddest storry—of drugs and baseball.
Scurry was hardly the only player from his era to become involved with drugs, and he certainly wasn’t the most high-profile athlete, but he paid the ultimate price.
Born in Sacramento in 1956, the Pirates claimed him out of high school in the 1974 draft, and after toiling in the minors for several years, in 1980 Scurry made his big league debut with Pittsburgh.
The early-1980s Pirates clubhouse proved to be the worst possible environment for Scurry. At the time, baseball—like the nation as a whole—was in the midst of a surge in the usage of recreational drugs, most notably cocaine. For baseball, Pittsburgh was the center of drug usage. In the mid-1980s, baseball’s cocaine trials would take place in Pittsburgh, and the public would learn that drug dealers sometimes would enter the Pirates clubhouse, and that even the man inside the Pirates Parrot mascot costume was implicated in drug dealing.
That’s what Scurry walked into and what he got involved in. Scurry’s career as a relief pitcher began well with very nice campaigns in 1980 and 1982. In 1983, the wheels fell off. He was no longer using drugs recreationally; Scurry had become a full-blown addict.
When the Pittsburgh drug investigation began, Scurry was one of the players named publicly. He testified to purchasing cocaine nearly 20 times in 1982-83. Several of his Pittsburgh teammates, including future manager Lee Mazzilli and former MVP Dave Parker, also were involved.
Most of the other guys involved managed to clean themselves up. Parker rebounded and had several quality seasons once he got his groove back. Mazzilli, as noted, became a manager. But Scurry was too far gone. He hung around baseball, bouncing from team to team in the latter 1980s, until he was out of the game by the end of 1988. He may have been out of the game, but he never got the drugs out of his system.
The end came sadly in late 1992. On Oct. 29, one of Scurry’s neighbors called the cops to report Scurry’s erratic behavior. The police found him outside his home, claiming there were snakes inside that had been biting him. The police attempted to handcuff the clearly off-kilter Scurry, but he became agitated and violent and then stopped breathing. He’d just had his cocaine-related heart attack.
Scurry went to the hospital, where life support kept him alive for another week, but on Nov. 5, 1992, he died at just 36 years old. The story of Rod Scurry is a sad one, and it’s one that ended 20 years ago today.
Aside from that, many other baseball events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something that occurred X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d prefer to just skim through the list.
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