NEW YORK -- Roberto Clemente's oldest son said he
unknowingly took steroids from a trainer in Puerto Rico while
rehabbing a knee injury in the minor leagues in the 1980s.
Roberto Clemente Jr. told the New York Daily News he met Luiz Perez after
undergoing a second operation for chronic pain in his right knee in
1987 while with the San Diego Padres organization.
Perez told Clemente Jr. he needed to start taking B-12
injections, along with steroids testosterone and androstendione to
help increase his strength.
"He might as well have been speaking Chinese to me," Clemente
Jr. told the newspaper. "I didn't know what they were, but he said
they would help me and I said, 'OK, great.' Today you know what
those things are, but then I couldn't even imagine anything like
steroids, which could make you feel great and at the same time
could be killing you."
Clemente Jr., who was 6 when his Hall of Fame father died in a
plane crash in 1972, estimates he got about 150 shots, and he added
20 pounds of muscle.
"I didn't think I was doing anything wrong. I was just trying
to rehab my knee," the News quoted him as saying.
Clemente Jr. stopped taking the shots after almost a year when
he left to play winter ball in Venezuela. Within a year, he began
feeling tingling sensations at the site of the injections. In the
winter of 1989, he signed with the Baltimore Orioles, but his
career was over at 24 because of a back injury. He never made it
It was only when Mark McGwire caused a furor in 1998 after he
said he took andro that Clemente Jr. realized he had been given
steroids, the newspaper reported. He said he was saddened when he
saw McGwire testifying before a congressional panel last month on
steroids in baseball.
"That for me was a very sad day," he told the paper. "What's going on in baseball is really a shame. Here was a man [McGwire] who helped save the game -- who was a national hero. All he needed to do was tell the truth. Do the right thing. Make a good choice.
"That's what I talk to kids about every day -- making good choices. If you make a mistake, it's not that big a deal. We all make mistakes and we will until the day we die. You become a better person when you can admit you made a mistake."
Clemente Jr. now has his own radio show, works with his father's
foundation and talks to youngsters about the dangers of steroids.
"If my going out there and talking to kids about steroids benefits anyone who's even thinking about it, then that's what I'm going to do," he told the paper.
Last week, he spoke at Roberto Clemente Middle School in the Bronx.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.