Lenny Dykstra talks steroid usage: ‘I started because I had to'


These days, Lenny Dykstra might be better known for his tumultuous history off of the diamond than for anything he ever accomplished on it. Not only that, we now know the former Phillies centerfielder's achievements in baseball are tainted by steroid usage.

If you want to understand what would make an athlete turn to illegal performance-enhancing drugs though, Dykstra doesn't hide from his history. As the three-time All-Star explained to Scott Miller for Bleacher Report, he had to take steroids if he was going to make it.

In a far-reaching interview that touches on everything from his playing days to his son's own professional career, to failed business ventures to a rough stint in jail, Dykstra explains exactly how and when steroids came into the equation. Interestingly enough, it wasn't long after he was first traded from the New York Mets to the Phillies in 1989.

For all of his big hits during the Mets' World Series run in '86, Dykstra was having trouble holding down his job. The Phillies were perhaps his final opportunity, and realizing that, he did what he felt was necessary to stay in baseball. Via Miller:

"So I said, I need to play," Dykstra says. "I finally got traded to the Phillies in '89, and I'm 150, 140 pounds. So I knew. [Then-Philadelphia general manager] Lee Thomas said, look, we're going to give you 1990. You'll be our everyday guy.

"So I knew '90 was it for me. So that's why I went to the library in Mississippi and looked it up. Ben Johnson, remember? (Johnson, the 100-meter gold medalist in the 1988 Olympics was stripped of his medal when he failed a drug test for steroid use.) I literally called up some doctor in Mississippi and told him the story I'm telling you. I have a family. I have a chance to make a lot of money. It's not that I can't play. I know how to do that. You don't have to teach me that.

"But the schedule is six months. I'm just not physically big enough to hold up. If I can just stay strong…"

In 1990, Dykstra led the NL in hits (192) and on-base percentage (.418), and he ranked fourth in batting average (.325).

"And I'm on the cover of Sports Illustrated," he says of the issue dated June 4, 1990. "Coincidence? I think not. That s--t works. I told baseball that."

By 1993, Dykstra was a powerhouse and one of the catalysts behind the Phillies' own World Series run that season. He made lots of money as a result, too, which he doesn't deny was a motivating factor.

Plugging his new book, House of Nails, that's set for publication on Tuesday — or more money — might've been a motivating factor for giving this interview as well. That being said, it's not only an interesting look into how a Phillies legend was born, but a glimpse into Dykstra's life and mindset today, after bankruptcy and jail and having his teeth knocked out.

>> Confessions of a steroid pioneer [BR]

Contact Us