Rafael Palmeiro Comments on Failed Drug Test, Legacy and More

Joe Pantorno@@JoePantornoFeatured ColumnistApril 19, 2016

** FILE ** Baltimore Orioles Rafael Palmeiro walks out of the batting cage after batting practice in this Aug. 11, 2005 in Baltimore, Md. Palmeiro failed to explain how a steroid entered his system when he went before a baseball panel several months ago to plead his case, The Sun reported Friday. The Baltimore Orioles star shed little light during his long statement on why and how he tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug, three sources familiar with the transcript told the newspaper. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)
GAIL BURTON/Associated Press

In an interview published Monday, Rafael Palmeiro—after more than a decade of silence and ambiguity—spoke with FoxSports.com's Flinder Boyd about his career and fall from grace.

It's been nearly 11 years since Palmeiro last played in the major leagues. He defiantly denied his use of steroids on Capitol Hill in March 2005, but in August of that year, it was revealed he had tested positive for stanozolol.

He remained adamant that his failed test was due to a "tainted B-12 vitamin vial injected by his wife and given to him by teammate Miguel Tejada," per Boyd.

Because of Palmeiro's actions, then-MLB Commissioner Bud Selig suspended him for 10 games.

"I called Selig and begged for my life," Palmeiro told Boyd. "He s--t on me. 'You know, man, I can't do anything for you. After your suspension—I'll be here for you, anything you need,' he told me."

Before his name became synonymous with steroids, Palmeiro was on track to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. In 20 big league seasons with the Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles, he hit 569 home runs and recorded 3,020 hits.

But perhaps the biggest moment of his career—his 3,000th hit in July 2005—was tainted.

"When I got to second, I didn't feel like a person who just got 3,000 hits," Palmeiro told Boyd. "I felt like, OK, now I have to prepare for the destruction."

The suspension came two-and-a-half weeks later, and Palmeiro played only seven more games. He missed a few because of injury, then retired.

"I crawled the rest of the way," Palmeiro told Boyd. "I was barely functional.

"That's how it ended—no announcement, no celebration. That was my retirement. I got sent home."

After losing the fans' trust, Palmeiro was done with the game:

I was done with baseball. I hated it.


You know what was hard? Going back to Baltimore and being booed and having signs at the ballpark—liar, steroid monster. I could see that happening on the road in Boston or Toronto. People are bad, throwing [stuff] at me. But I couldn't see that from the fans that two weeks before were embracing me. I've never been back to Baltimore.

It doesn't look like baseball will welcome back Palmeiro either, at least not in Cooperstown, New York. In his first year of eligibility for the Hall of Fame in 2011, Palmeiro received just 11 percent of votes in what he called "a knife in the back."

Now 51 years old, Palmeiro said he thinks he could still be productive: "If I had to play a full season, I could probably hit .270, with 25 home runs. It's between the ears, man."

But a player who was once the class of the major leagues and the epitome of a role model has become an outcast.

"This isn't how I envisioned my life to be," Palmeiro told Boyd.

Most baseball fans who watched Palmeiro during his stellar career probably didn't envision it this way either.

Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.