Peter Gammons: Listmaker, two weekends ago Sports Illustrated reported that in 1989 you used an illegal bat while playing in the Wheaton Boys Club Spring League. What is the truth?
Listmaker: When I arrived in Wheaton in 1989, I felt an enormous amount of pressure. I felt like I had all the weight of the world on top of me, and I needed to perform, and perform at a high level every day. I was a 10th Grader in a league with 8th-10th graders. Great Doug Mientkiewicz type defense wasn't enough. I had to bring it with the bat.
Back then, it was a different culture. It was very loose. I was young. I was stupid. I was naive. And I wanted to prove to everyone that, you know, I was worth being one of the greatest players in the league. We were stacked. Steve Mackinnon. Matt Wray. Richard Judy. The list goes on and on. And I did use an illegal bat. You know, for that I'm very sorry and deeply regretful.
... The culture back then, and at Wheaton Boys Club overall, was very -- I just feel that, you know, I'm just sorry. I'm sorry for that time. I'm sorry to my fans. I'm sorry for my fans in Wheaton. It wasn't until then that I ever thought about an illegal bat of any kind, and since then, I've proved to myself and to everyone that I don't need any of that. Hell, once Ian Mackaye likened my softball heroics to Ted Williams! Granted, he was referring to my glove and he was a bit confused as to what Williams was known for - but still ... a punk rock legend, dude!
PETER GAMMONS: You're saying that the time period was 1989?
LISTMAKER: That's pretty accurate, yes. I might have used the bat in some pickup games in Cloverly but it was a loosey-goosey atmosphere at those games.
PETER GAMMONS: What kind of bats were you using?
LISTMAKER: Peter, that's the thing. Again, it was such a loosey-goosey era. I'm guilty for a lot of things. I'm guilty for being negligent, naive, not asking all the right questions. And to be quite honest, I don't know exactly what bat I was guilty of using. I just know it was a softball bat and not a baseball bat. The ball just flew!
PETER GAMMONS: Where did you originally get the bat?
LISTMAKER: Again, at the time, you know, you have coaches, you have friends, you have parents. That's the right question today: Where did you get it?
There's many things that you can use that are banned substances. Pine tar for example. I mean, we weren't even allowed to run into the catcher at full speed in that league. You had to do what you had to do to be the best.
I'm not sure exactly what bat I used. But whatever it is, I feel terribly about it.
Going back to 1989, my friend William G started telling me about a bat that can be purchased over the counter in the WO (White Oak). In the streets it's known as "boli." It was his understanding that it would give my bat a dramatic energy boost and was otherwise harmless.
My friend and I, one more ignorant than the other, decided it was a good idea to start using it. But William was too old to play in the league I was in. I was the one with all of the pressure on me. I was a small guy you know. My greatest moment leading up to the '89 season was a game winning hit back in '85 where my teammates carried me off the field on their shoulders. It was fantastic. I needed to prove myself to the new league. As you know, I took the '88 season off after a disappointing '87 campaign. I had a lot of pressure on me. A lot. When you are top dog in an 8th-10 graders league, you've got to bring your A game.
My friend lent me his bat, but neither of us knew how to use it properly providing just how ignorant we both were. It was at this point, we decided I'd use it twice a game for about six games. And then it worked so well that it became every at-bat.
During the 1989 season, we consulted no one and had no good reason to base that decision. It was pretty evident we didn't know what we were doing. We did everything we could to keep it between us. And my friend did not provide any other players with it except for about seven of my teammates. I stopped using it in 1989 and haven't used it since even though I mostly played softball after that time and the bat would have been legal.
When I entered the league, I was a young kid even though I was one of the oldest players in the league. I was 16 years old right in the middle of 10th grade, I thought I knew everything and I clearly didn't. Like everyone else, I've made a lot of mistakes in my life. The only way I know how to handle them is to learn from them and move forward. One thing I know for sure is that baseball is a lot bigger than Listmaker. And to my readers (37 second pause) thank you."
Back in the early 80's, no one worried about illegal bats. It was all about fun.
back row: (Freddie K, Tommy G, William G)
front row: a young Listmaker
I was never a star. I needed something extra.
The legal Bat Era
Unbelievably, I was once a member of the Yankees.
Check out the young Richard Judy - front row, far left.
1989: The Illegal Time
The bat in the picture was never actually used in a real game.