A few years ago our fine editor Bruce Anderson and I read the same article in a popular monthly magazine about steroids and competitive amateur bicycle racing. The article was written by a man in his early 40s who raced in age group classifications. He had average middle-of-the-pack finishes in his races. He was a writer who wanted to legally obtain steroids from a medical doctor and write about steroids from a personal perspective.
When he took Human Growth Hormones he felt younger and stronger and recovered faster physically from hard races and hard practice sessions.
He had to be careful because — he was keeping his ‘roid use a secret from his racing competitors — he didn’t want to defeat racers he shouldn’t be able to beat. He even competed in Open Division bicycle races that anybody of any age could compete in as long as they were amateurs.
He amazingly discovered that he could have actually won Open races had he tried to win. He felt great. Then he went a step further to the muscle building stuff that gives a person’s body the vein-popping Popeye forearms and balloon biceps if he is also training with heavy weights.
He felt bloated and sluggish for three weeks after taking the anabolic steroids. But, soon his legs became much more muscular and powerful. But, he didn’t like the way he felt with anabolic steroids and quit all steroids for good and wrote the article.
But, the key thing to the article to me and, I think, to Bruce Anderson, was when he wrote, in essence, that the HGH allowed him to remove his prescription glasses and soon he could see better than he ever had as a youngster, even better than he thought it was possible to see.
I can still remember Bruce saying, “In baseball if you can see it, you can hit it.” I agreed.
Bruce Anderson knows baseball, especially pitching. Bruce has the Bay Area high school record at Tamalpais High of striking out 14 batters in a high school championship game. Bruce Anderson also threw a 13-inning shutout as a high school pitcher — a record that still stands and is likely to stand indefinitely because the little dears, these days, are only allowed to pitch a maximum of maybe ten innings a week. He went to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, on an athletic scholarship because of his baseball skill. He was a good college pitcher and the major leagues showed an interest in him. But, Bruce was curious about the intellectual life found in reading and writing and seeing parts of the world. He couldn’t devote all of his energies toward making it to the “Bigs.”
I once asked an old coach from Ukiah what he had heard in baseball terms about Bruce Anderson. He told me that he knew that Bruce had a very strong arm but you had to time him going to first base with a sundial. I replied that Bruce could fast-walk faster than Gaylord Perry could run to first base. The old coach laughed and said, “That’s probably true.” (Perry was a terrific pitcher for the Giants who was always being accused of throwing spitballs, but he was never actually caught throwing a spitter. He pitched when Juan Marichal pitched, with Willy Mays in centerfield, Willie McCovey at first base, and Orlando Cepeda roamed the field — back in the day.)
When I was coaching Men’s and Women’s varsity tennis in Central California, I also gave some private tennis lessons, and that is how I had my first and only experience with HGH. A prominent man in academics in Central California asked me to request that his son take HGH and for me to give him tennis lessons. The father said that natural genetics had been unkind to his son by stunting his natural growth. The father was 5’8”; his wife was 5’4” but his son was 4’10” at 16 years of age. The son’s younger sister was taller than her brother.
So, I talked to the teenager — already a good high school player. But, in sanctioned NCTA Junior Tennis he would be drawn toward the net with short slices, then passed or lobbed over by his opponents. Plus, because of his limited reach, he was relatively easy to ace.
I asked him about his reluctance to take Human Growth Hormone. He said he didn’t want to be a big-necked, big-muscled, pimply guy. I told him HGH was discovered by scientists to help someone like him who was sort-changed by nature — that he wouldn't change in any way except hopefully he would get a little taller.
So, he agreed to try HGH. His appearance didn’t change at all except that over the next two years he grew taller. His final height was 5’4” and he only took the HGH for six weeks from a medical doctor. He won an athletic scholarship to a fine college.
Over the years I would see him at tournaments like the prestigious Ojai, California Tournament where his most prominent strength seemed to be his return of serve. I asked him once at Ojai — ”you are returning serve great, kid. How did you get so consistently aggressive and accurate in your service returns?”
He said, “I only took that HGH for six weeks but I have been able to see the tennis balls so much better ever since then. I can see the racquet strike the ball and pick up the rotation of the ball. So I can track its direction. I get a jump on the ball.”
So, what’s with the A’s Mark McGuire, Jose Canseco and the Giant’s Barry Bonds putting on so much muscle that they seem ponderous — the preposterous opposite of graceful athleticism. If they had taken HGH and had proper weight training, they’d have still been stars in the game because of great vision. In baseball, if you can see it, you can hit it. And, no one would have known. Timing and vision equal power in baseball.
Ted Williams perhaps the greatest hitter ever had natural spectacular vision. In the Air Force in WWII, he was so important to his squadron because he could see the enemy planes before anyone else could see them. And Williams often said he could see the ball leave the hand of the pitcher and pick up the rotation of the ball.
Barry Bonds had so much discipline when he was at bat that he wouldn’t swing at a bad pitch no matter how much he was walked. I think his vision was enhanced.
I saw Hank Aaron play two times when the Giants played at Candlestick Park. He was the thinnest man on the field. Eddie Mathews and Aaron both played for the Atlantic Braves and third baseman Mathews looked like the power hitter rather than Aaron.
But, the greatest player was Willie Mays. He hit a baseball hard every time I watched him play at Candlestick. Frequently it appeared to be a gorgeous home run only to be caught by the strong blocking winds defending the left field and the center field walls at Candlestick Park. If Mays had played in Atlanta as Aaron did, Mays would have been the home run champ. Still, Hank Aaron, a wonderful and natural man, owns the home run record to me.