Last October, while the Red Sox were celebrating their first championship in 86 years, a former batboy of theirs was alone, slicing his flesh with a knife. “It’s disgusting to me, it’s nasty.” said Carlos Cowart, 25, who worked for the Sox from 1996-2000. “No one knows I do it. I don’t know why I do it. But after I do it, I feel relieved.”
Cowart is haunted by demons that he says stem from an incident June 30, 2000, when police discovered steroids and syringes in the glove compartment of the Mercedes-Benz that had been loaned to him by Manny Alexander, then a utility infielder with the Sox.
Cowart was driving Alexander’s car when a state trooper stopped him on Blue Hill Avenue in Dorchester. State Police said the trooper was suspicious that Cowart may not have been the owner of the vehicle.
Cowart was arrested after a computer check revealed that the Dorchester High School student was driving without a license and was wanted on a previous charge of driving without a license and failing to stop for police. The steroids were discovered in a routine search of the impounded car.
State Police initially sought criminal complaints against Alexander, who was with the Red Sox in Chicago at the time of Cowart’s arrest, but a Dorchester clerk-magistrate ruled there was not probable cause for misdemeanor charges of steroid possession because of insufficient evidence. Alexander’s lawyer argued that at least five people had access to the car.
But the incident unleashed a series of events that continue to plague Cowart.
At first, the batboy said, the Red Sox and Major League Baseball detectives told him not to worry about it, that he would not be to blame. But when newspapers first wrote about the incident late in July, it was reported that Cowart had a “three-page” arrest report, including marijuana and cocaine possession. Unreported was the fact that he had no convictions and no record.
“It was a Saturday morning,” said Cowart. “I was about to go to work and my friend calls me and tells me this is in the paper. That instant everything came down. Reporters knocking on my door. Reporters seeing old friends I hadn’t seen in five years. It all came down on me. Every time I turned on the radio and got a newspaper, my name was being run through the dirt.”
Some of Alexander’s very famous friends rushed to his defense. Chicago Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa told Chicago reporters, “The person he gave the car to . . . has a negative record.”
Cowart emphatically denies that the steroids were his, let alone that he was a supplier.
“Never, never, never,” he said.
He says he knows he needs help, but he never has been able to talk to anyone about the self-mutilation. Asked where he cuts himself, there is a long silence, and then he softly says, “Red socks.”
Unlike Curt Schilling’s bloody red sock, which is the stuff of legend and wound up in the Hall of Fame, this is a tale of a different type of pain.
Veteran knuckleballer Wakefield does not talk to the media the day before he pitches. But he made an exception earlier this season when the subject was Cowart.
“I just felt it was unfair going through the situation he went through,” Wakefield said. “He borrowed a car when we were on the road and he gets pulled over and he’s got steroids in the glove compartment. It’s not his fault.
“This kid, when he worked for us, never said a word. He worked hard, he cared about his job. We could joke and kid around with him. He was a nice kid. I just think it was unfortunate that he got caught in the middle of something that was not any of his doing. That was out of his control.”
Cowart says Major League Baseball tried to keep it quiet.
“Major League detectives asked me if the steroids were mine,” Cowart said. I said, `No.’ They said, `Carlos, you have nothing to worry about, you’re a good kid.’ In other words, this is not going to come back on me. They said the story wouldn’t get out and it wouldn’t come down on me.”
When approached by a reporter at Phoenix Municipal Stadium during the last days of spring training this year, Alexander, now 34, says he has a couple of minutes to talk. But at the mention of steroids, he starts walking briskly toward the clubhouse. Asked about Cowart, he says, “I don’t know that guy.” “Then whose steroids were in the car?”
“I’m not going to tell you that. If it was me, they would have taken me to the court. It wasn’t mine.”
He says seven times that the steroids weren’t his. But a New York Times report in October 2000 said Alexander’s name was on the envelope containing the steroids and the hypodermic needles in the glove compartment.
“Major League Baseball did my test,” Alexander said. “They tested me in New York after that thing. I think you got the wrong guy to ask questions to. I know you’re not accusing me, but you’re not going to find out, either, because I don’t know who it was for. I know it was in my car.
“Maybe it was Carlos’s or somebody else’s. I don’t know. Ask Carlos. We’re friends. He was my boy in Boston. Ask him.”
Cowart says Alexander is “a snake.” “Alexander left me out in the cold,” said Cowart. “He never apologized. He owes me.”
Alexander (above), currently playing shortstop for the Rangers’ AAA affiliate Oklahoma went 3 for 5 yesterday, with one double, one RBI and one stolen base in the visiting Red Hawks’ 9-3 win at Round Rock, snapping a 3 game skid. Former Boston pitcher John Wasdin collected the victory, despite giving up 3 runs in the first inning, two of ’em on Express third baseman Mike Coolbaugh’s 2 run homer. Rehabbing Astros outfielder Lance Berkman had a pair of singles in 4 trips to the plate for Round Rock, and is expected to make this week’s trip to New Orleans.