Former Mets and Phillies star Lenny Dykstra recounts his MLB career in his new book, including how he acquired performance-enhancing substances.
Former New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies center fielder Lenny Dykstra said he felt like he had no choice. If he didn’t start taking steroids, his baseball career was going to end well before his 30th birthday.
He said in a recent interview with Scott Miller on Bleacher Report that, after being traded from the Mets to the Phillies in the winter of 1990, he cold-called a doctor from his offseason home in Mississippi and said he needed help grinding through the upcoming season.
Dykstra, in the days before the internet, found what he was looking for with one phone call.
"“So I said, I need to play,” Dykstra says. “I finally got traded to the Phillies in ’89, and I’m 150, 140 pounds. So I knew. [Then-Philadelphia general manager] Lee Thomas said, look, we’re going to give you 1990. You’ll be our everyday guy.“So I knew ’90 was it for me. So that’s why I went to the library in Mississippi and looked it up. Ben Johnson, remember? (Johnson, the 100-meter gold medalist in the 1988 Olympics was stripped of his medal when he failed a drug test for steroid use.) I literally called up some doctor in Mississippi and told him the story I’m telling you. I have a family. I have a chance to make a lot of money. It’s not that I can’t play. I know how to do that. You don’t have to teach me that.“But the schedule is six months. I’m just not physically big enough to hold up. If I can just stay strong…”"
Did steriods make a difference in his performance? In 1989 Dykstra’s slash line was .237/.318/.356. In his first season in Philly, Dykstra led all National League hitters with an on-base percentage of .418 and 192 hits. His .325 batting average was the fourth-best in the Senior Circuit in 1990. By the time he played in the 1993 World Series, Dykstra was finishing second to Barry Bonds for the NL MVP.
Dykstra has done many interviews lately to publicize his just released his autobiography, House of Nails: A Memoir of Life on the Edge (published by HarperCollins). For those easily offended by the use of the “f-word” Miller censors them in his interview. But the book is likely full of them; Dykstra is quite comfortable with salty language, which would be consistent with his style of play back in the day, and in his business dealings since.
In the Bleacher Report interview Dykstra recalls events as he remembers them. But like an uncle with a million fish stories, it’s easy to see where his is not the only side of the story. The interview, and likely the book, can provide insight as to how the steroid era began.
After all, you can’t blame someone for clinging tenaciously to a seven-digit income.