Jeff Scott held the syringe up to the light in his bedroom, pushing the plunger with his thumb to expel an air bubble, and turned to Lenny Dykstra.
The Phillies' All-Star outfielder had been kicking around Florida since late January, hoping for a break in the eight-month-old strike. Now it was March, and the owners were working out replacement players for the upcoming season; 40 of them were already at the Phillies' Jack Russell Stadium in Clearwater. Watching them whiff at pitches, boot grounders and muff fly balls in official Philly unis made Dykstra madder than hell. He'd already lost $800,000 and, with a big raise set to kick in for the 1995 season, he was looking at losing another $500,000 for each month those scabs played on his field. It was enough to make him suggest to a TV interviewer that he might cross a picket line. Teammate Dave Hollins had to stand up at a tense union meeting to defend his friend's right to free speech after that one.
The hardest thing, though, was keeping your head in a game you weren't playing. Fellow Phillie John Kruk loved to say, "I'm not an athlete, I'm a baseball player." But Dykstra, at 32, couldn't laugh about his failing body. He walked around with a Dunhill briefcase full of bottles of pills he took to ease the postoperative pain in his arthritic knee.
The bodybuilding trophies that dotted Scott's apartment suggested a better-than-average knowledge of steroids, a knowledge he was happy to share with fellow athletes on the mend. Hollins, who'd lost 15 pounds after it was discovered he had diabetes in the winter of 1993, was struggling to get back to his 205-pound playing weight. On visits to Scott's place, he asked about steroids. (Hollins denies ever being in the apartment, but a second source besides Scott insists he was there often.)
In the bedroom, Scott injected Dykstra. After accepting payment -- 100 bucks -- he asked if Dykstra wanted to grab lunch. It was all so casual, Scott thought, just two guys hanging out.
Scott liked to kid that Dykstra was his "science experiment." They'd met four years earlier at Joe Doogan's, a Clearwater haunt, after Scott had done 13 months in jail for cocaine trafficking. Lenny made a joke about Scott's huge muscles. Soon he was asking to score some 'roids. Scott hunted down some Deca-Durabolin for him. (Dykstra declined comment through his lawyer.)
For that, Scott earned a pass into Dykstra's entourage. In 1991, and again in 1992, Scott was his new friend's January-to-April sidekick, and the two cut a broad swath through Clearwater's strip clubs. When it was time for the big leaguer to head north each spring, Scott sent him off with a present: 100 vials of Deca -- a season's worth.
In 1993, Dykstra came to spring training with a purposefulness Scott hadn't seen before. It was his option year. "I want to put on size, dude," Scott remembers Lenny saying. Scott "prescribed" a cocktail that blended several steroids, oral and injectable, and watched the little man explode. By season's end, he was the first player ever to lead the National League in at-bats, hits, walks and runs. The Phillies reached the World Series and Dykstra finished second to Barry Bonds in the MVP balloting. That winter, the team gave him a four-year, $24.9 million extension. The deal showed just how much money was available to players who could pump up their stats.
But it was the beginning of the end for Nails. Instead of pushing it in the gym during spring training of 1994, he lounged at a waterside spa and continued a long-running extramarital affair with the sister of his business partner's mistress. The four of them were tight, staying in four-star hotels, drinking $3,000 champagne, throwing around cash. Scott was often the fifth in a crowd who often talked about steroids. One of the sisters says she even injected Lenny in a hotel room bathroom in St. Louis because he hated doing it himself.
As the strike lingered on, Dykstra moved back in with his family in a beach house in nearby Feather Sound. Often, when Scott stopped by early in 1995, Dykstra looked sullen. A report at the time said plans for two unbuilt car washes sat on Dykstra's desk up in his New Jersey office, and bankers were knocking on his door. Plus, his knees still creaked. On one visit, Dykstra invited Scott to watch his favorite movie, A Few Good Men. In a darkened home theater, Dykstra shouted his favorite line: You can't handle the truth! Scott wondered whether Lenny meant that for Tom Cruise or for himself.
The labor crisis was settled in time to salvage the 1995 season, but the Phillies were out of the race by August. Weeks before, though, Hollins, hitting .229 at the break, was benched and then traded to Boston. And on July 28 Dykstra went back on the DL. The prescription: more surgery on his right knee. His season was over. Scott would have a lot of work to do when spring training rolled back around.
"I want to put on size, dude," [Jeff] Scott remembers Lenny [Dykstra] saying. Scott "prescribed" a cocktail that blended several steroids, oral and injectable, and watched the little man explode.