“The Year of the Rat in the Japanese zodiac started Feb. 7, about a week after Larry Bigbie arrived” writes Yahoo’s Jeff Passan, catching up with the former Baltimore RF whose prominent role in the Mitchell Report led to his new gig with the Yokohoma Bay Stars.
Bigbie broke the code. In baseball, the honor of the clubhouse, of keeping secrets no matter how deep, dark and dirty, is sacrosanct, and when the former Sen. George Mitchell released his report on the rampant performance-enhancing drug use in baseball, there was Bigbie, not only admitting using them but naming names of teammates who did, too.
œThat™s not how it went, Bigbie says. œThat™s not how it went at all. But right there, I was done. My name “ done.
A bowl of ramen in front of Bigbie is getting cold. So is his fried rice. He sits in the lunch area of the BayStars™ minor-league facility, here to heal from a cracked rib, and tries to explain what exactly happened, how he became baseball™s Sammy Gravano, and when he realizes he™s repeating himself, Bigbie shakes his head.
Federal agents confronted Bigbie at his home. By then, they had pinched and flipped Kirk Radomski, and during his cooperation, Bigbie tried to order a kit of human growth hormone. The feds had leverage on him too, and as they searched his house for drugs, Jeff Novitzky, the special agent with a shaved head who made the BALCO case that tarnished so many careers, told Bigbie he™d be best served telling the truth.
No one close to Bigbie knew that he had used steroids first, then human growth hormone, not even his girlfriend, who at the time was pregnant. Bigbie started to rationalize: He had a family and life beyond baseball, and he refused to give it up for a misguided omertÃ .
So he said what he knew, first to Novitzky, then Mitchell.
œBrian Roberts was one of my good friends, Bigbie says. œThe way that came out, it was like I picked up the phone and decided to talk about Brian Roberts. That™s how it™s perceived, and it wasn™t the case. Jack Cust is one of my friends, too. Love Jack. A great guy.
For the next two years, first in the major leagues with St. Louis and last year in at Triple-A, Bigbie played with the specter of Novitzky™s investigation still present. Novitzky checked in every so often to update Bigbie on the progress, and Bigbie said he appreciated Novitzky™s professionalism and respect.
When the Mitchell Report finally dropped, Bigbie tried to purge his involvement, so the backlash hurt. He called Roberts and left a message. He never heard back.
œI™d also like someday to be able to talk to Brian and Jack, Bigbie says. œI™m not going to be able to change the opinion of the public. I™m not going to change the views of others.
œI would tell them about how things worked. I™d tell them how things came out. I™d want to try and smooth my end over so they didn™t feel that way. Chances are, I™ll probably never see them again in my life, but I don™t want someone to feel that way about me.