Breaking News: Babe Ruth Admits Using Performance-Enhancing Substances

Perry ArnoldSenior Analyst IFebruary 13, 2009

Dateline: New York, New York; Sept. 21, 1927

In an exclusive interview with The Sporting News, New York Yankee right fielder Babe Ruth admitted today to the use of performance-enhancing substances.

In an interview given to this reporter and this reporter only, Ruth admitted that he had begun using the substances—then completely unknown to any other player, coach, manager or reporter—while still playing for the Boston Red Sox.

Since the report Ruth has tried to blend in with the crowd and has worn a coat with a high collar and a large hat to try to remain incognito.

He said that he had felt a great deal of pressure to make more of himself because he did not want to let down his many fans.

He added that after coming to the lowly New York Yankees for the 1920 season, he increased his use of the performance-enhancing substances because, "I knew my new team would have no chance to compete unless I could keep an edge."

Ruth, who came to the major leagues as a left-handed pitcher with the Sox, was sold to the Yankees in 1919 by Red Sox owner Harry Frazee. While still in Boston, Ruth had begun to hit so powerfully and with such seeming lack of effort that even then rumors were rampant that his abilities seemed beyond human capacity.

The ball seemed to fly off his bat without any real effort and balls which would have been easy pop-ups when hit by other players, cleared the fences in every park.

Ruth broke through in his first season with the Yankees hitting 54 home runs in the Giants home field at the Polo Grounds. The Yankees played there because they had no home park of their own.

Because the Polo Grounds was such a large field, no one could believe that Ruth could produce so many home runs, more than most other teams in the league. Even then many began to speculate that Ruth must be using a different kind of bat or that he had vision greater than any other player.

But no one had ever heard of performance enhancing substances at the time.

As the years went on and Ruth continued his prodigious feats of hitting, talk grew ever louder and speculation escalated that Ruth must have found an illegal edge.

This reporter, among others, compared photos of Ruth when he first came to the big leagues with those taken of him just this past year.  It was obvious in the pictures that Ruth had changed dramatically in his physical appearance.

What was especially notable was that his head had gotten much bigger than it had been in his rookie season in 1915. Ruth has refused to allow anyone to measure his head for several years now, so the only aid reporters had was comparison photographs.

The growth of his head was especially noticeable when compared with his tiny feet and ankles which seem not to have grown at all.

It has also been noted that in newsreel shots of Ruth, he seemed to be anxious at the plate, unable to wait on the pitch. In several shots he is seen taking several mincing steps toward the pitcher as the ball is on its way.

"With the use of these substances I just can't wait to hit. Against some pitchers I feel so powerful, that I almost run up on the ball."

Ruth went on to explain his confidence at the plate.  "These things just make me feel that no pitcher can get me out. I feel like every time up there I am going to launch one."

Ruth would neither confirm nor deny that he had begun to share his performance enhancing substances with teammate, Lou Gehrig. Since Gehrig joined Ruth on the Yankees he has also begun to hit a great many home runs and very long home runs at that.

Ruth would not reveal the exact source of his performance enhancing substances, but through extraordinary effort this reporter has been able to trace what we now believe is the source.

After one game a small residue of substance was found in a wrapper on the dugout bench in the exact spot where Ruth had last sat during the game. This reporter managed to procure the wrapper with the substance.

It was taken to Belleview Hospital where a nephew of this reporter's cousin's wife works. The nephew knew someone who worked in the lab and after extensive studies it was revealed that the substance is without a doubt a minuscule portion of what was left of a Nathan's frankfurter.

Unfortunately there was not enough of the sample left to have duplicate tests done. Apparently Babe is very careful not to leave much evidence behind after he has consumed his performance enhancing substances.

With the revelation from the lab work, this reporter has been able to do considerable research prior to confronting Babe. It turns out that there are numerous photographs and newspaper reports of the frequent and often overwhelming numbers of Nathan's frankfurters that Ruth consumes.

Many have thought for years that Ruth just had a larger than normal appetite and that his consumption of the hot dogs was nothing unusual.

But when Babe was confronted with the evidence he eventually admitted, saying, "Dammit, I guess you got me, I guess Nathan's business is sure gonna go up now."

Ruth also said that before realizing the power in Nathan's he had also tried baked beans and chowder while in Boston. But on an off season trip to New York City he ate several of the famous frankfurters and realized how much more power they gave him. While still in Boston he began to have an undercover assistant run them dogs up from New York.

Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis has issued a statement to the effect that while major league baseball currently has no policy against the use of such performance-enhancing substances, it is possible that an anonymous survey study will be done during the 1928 season to determine exactly what percentage of players may be consuming Nathan's frankfurters.