EDITOR'S NOTE: This week, Congress released the results of its investigation into steroid use by Rafael Palmiero. The report described reckless and illegal use of prescription drugs in the Baltimore Orioles' locker room. In 1999, a similar scene was unfolding in the New York Mets' locker room, as Tom Farrey reports in this bonus coverage from ESPN The Magazine's look at steroid abuse.
The drugs arrived with the fan mail, delivered in little packages indistinguishable from the letters sent by kids asking for autographs. At his sparsely decorated locker beneath Shea Stadium, Brian McRae would open the envelope and take out the brown plastic bottle of painkillers a pharmacist had sent him without a prescription. He would remove two of the small, white pills, pop them into his mouth, take a few gulps of water and continue to prepare for that night's game.
It was early in 1999, his 10th season in the majors, and he was hardly the only Met with a rogue pharmacist.