Former four-time All-Star player Rafael Palmeiro, who retired from baseball somewhat unceremoniously following a 10-game suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancer while playing for the Baltimore Orioles in 2005 and has rarely been heard from since, opened up about life since he last played baseball in a report by Fox Sports.
The article details Palmeiro’s struggles since being tainted as the game’s first All-Star steroid-user in his final season a decade ago, after being booed during his final month as a big-leaguer—even by his home crowd—when he was, instead, expecting a Hall-of-Famer’s sendoff. “I’ve never been back to Baltimore,” Palmeiro said.
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) April 18, 2016
For his part Palmeiro says the positive test for stanozolol, a steroid commonly known as Winstrol, likely came from a tainted B-12 vitamin vial injected by his wife and given to him by teammate Miguel Tejada.
The timing of the suspension though—just a few months after wagging his finger and emphatically saying, “I have never used steroids. Period.” while testifying before a room full of Congressman in Washington, D.C.—was unfortunate, to say the least. Palmeiro was called to Capital Hill, along with several other major-leaguers, after Jose Canseco had singled him out as a PED-user in a tell-all book.
Rafael Palmiero still haunted by positive steroid test https://t.co/ZCq70xE5Ux
— Big League Stew (@bigleaguestew) April 18, 2016
After being called with the news that he had tested positive in his final season in 2005—and before it had been leaked to the public—the Players Association went to bat for him, producing new test results a few weeks later that showed he was innocent (along with tests from 2003 and 2004) as well as results from a polygraph test, that they claimed would prove his innocence—but to no avail. Finally, just before the suspension was to be announced, Palmeiro made last-minute calls to then-commissioner Bud Selig and even then-President George W. Bush—who was a part-owner of the Texas Rangers when Palmeiro was their first baseman—hoping for some help.
“I called Selig and begged for my life,” Palmeiro says. Selig, Palmeiro remembers, was dismissive though. “He [derogatory term omitted] on me. ‘You know, man, I can’t do anything for you. After your suspension—I’ll be here for you, anything you need,’ he told me.”
— Scott @ WFNY (@WFNYScott) April 18, 2016
In the end, MLB couldn’t find a single instance of a B-12 vitamin vial tainted with stanozolol and Palmeiro’s 10-game suspension ended up doing much worse than sideline him for a week and a half. His reputation and popularity was gone and all of his on-the-field exploits—he’s one of just four players in MLB history to record 3,000 hits and 500 home runs—were for naught as the Hall of Fame call never came.
After going through a bout of depression in retirement, Palmeiro would eventually invest some $53 million of his own money in a 92-acre plot in the Dallas area that seemed ready for mixed-use development. Soon after, though, the economy collapsed, the project was scrapped, and Palmeiro filed for bankruptcy to avoid financial ruin.
As for now, Palmeiro’s not sure what he’ll do with his life. “My life now is my son’s, and helping them to be better,” he says. “But for me, what do I want?” he asks. “I don’t know.”