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Bert Randolph Sugar is a writer sports historian who has written over 50 books, mostly about baseball and boxing.  He was the owner and editor of of Boxing Illustrated magazine[…]

Steroids aren’t as big a problem as the press has made them out to be. “And if they are, we’ve got a pitcher on steroids throwing to a batter on steroids who’s hitting to a fielder on steroids. You’re looking for one-upmanship.”

Question: What inspired you to write a book about the Baseballrn Hall of Fame?

Bert Sugar: I have followed baseball all my life, or rncognate life and it really is a fun sport.  And to me, the Baseball Hallrn of Fame is the greatest hall of fame there is, period, end of rnparagraph. 

So, I wanted to write about it and wanted to do a rnbook, an oversized coffee table book, stealing a line from one of the rn“Seinfeld” episodes.  It even comes with four legs in case you need a rncoffee table.  It’s a big book.  Big pictorial history, I’m writing the rnhistory and I’m taking the reader on a virtual tour through the Hall of rnFame.  And I’m proud of the fact that I got a blurb on the back from rnYogi Berra, which reads, “What Bert Sugar doesn’t know about baseball, rnnobody knows.”  I have no idea what that means.  I think it’s Zen-like, rnlike it’s not worth knowing.  But Yogi makes sense.  I'm a Yogism, but Irn once asked Yogi, I said: “Yogs, what did you mean when you said, when rnyou come to a fork in the road, take it.”  He said, “That’s easy, I livern at the end of a circle.  Whether you go left or right, you come to my rndriveway.”  And I went, “He’s making sense.”  And if you parse, analyze,rn Yogi’s sayings, he does makes sense. 

He’s credited with, “It’srn too crowded, nobody goes there anymore.”  Well, there’s a story to rnthat.  The Yankees, after a night game, would go out to dinner.  They’d rnbe at the stadium early to either go through the lineup of the opposing rnteam, or get treated for some ailment, or wrap their knees, if it was rnMickey Mantle, or whatever.  And after the game they’d all go out to rndinner.  And there was this one restaurant in Cleveland that always was rnopen and always had a place for them after a game.  And they all went rnthere.  Well, it became known that the Yankees eat here.  You know, rnadvertising, or word-of-mouth.  And they went one time, and there was norn place at the inn for them.  So they didn’t go there anymore.  Ergo, rn“It’s too crowded, nobody goes there anymore,” meaning “us.”  Yogi makesrn sense.

How badly has the steroids scandal hurt Major League rnBaseball?

Bert Sugar: I don’t think – I really don’t think steroidsrn are as big a problem as the press has made them.  And if they are, rnwe’ve got a pitcher on steroids throwing to a batter on steroids who’s rnhitting to a fielder on steroids.  You’re looking for one-upmanship.  rnTony Gwynn will tell you, years ago the Padres used to have a bowl of rnamphetamines in their clubhouse.  Like M&M’s, you’d just pop them.  rnIt didn’t help the Padres at all.  You’re not talented, it ain’t gonna rnhelp nothing.  If you’re talented, it might give you a little edge, but rnso will a spitball.  Baseball has always dealt in edges.  And the rnPhillies used to raise their third base foul line, extra lime, so that rnRichie Ashburn’s bunts would stay there.  The Cleveland Indians used to rngrow the grass higher at third base so Al Rosen, the third baseman rnwouldn’t break his nose or his fingers on every ground ball.  It would rnslow it down.  In the 1962 playoffs between the Dodgers and the rnGiants—by that time, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants—they rnwatered the base paths so Maury Wills couldn’t get off to a fast start rnand steal bases.  That’s legal, steroids aren’t.  You know, all right.  Irn don’t get that excited about it.  I’m sorry.  You know, and I’m so old rnthat when I heard the word “drugs” the first time, I thought they were rntalking about aspirin.

Recorded May 4, 2010
Interviewed by Austin Allen