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The Hall of Famer who proudly extolled the virtues of PEDs

Jan 10, 2013, 8:55 AM EDT

Pud Galvin

The player: 365 game winner Pud Galvin.

His PED: extract of monkey testicles, commercially known as “Brown-Sequard elixir.”

The media reaction:

“if there still be doubting Thomases who concede no virtue of the elixir, they are respectfully referred to Galvin’s record in yesterday’s Boston-Pittsburgh game. It is the best proof yet furnished of the value of the discovery.”

The full story: at Dan Lewis’ wonderful Now I Know, to which you should subscribe. It’s a free daily newsletter which presents cool facts and stories like this one and which will give you a nice and thought-provoking diversion for a few brief minutes every morning.

As for Galvin’s PED: it was likely a placebo. Of course, scientific studies on human growth hormone used by healthy athletes have found the same thing:

There is no current study that has demonstrated a significant increase in workload capacity in response to human GH administration in healthy adults. The studies that have addressed the impact of GH on muscle mass and athletic performance do not show consistently favorable results. For instance, patients with acromegaly do have greater muscle volume than normal individuals, but they do not show an increase in strength or performance. No controlled study to our knowledge has shown a beneficial effect of supraphysiological doses of human GH on muscle strength in trained athletes.

Pud Glavin: proud PED user, enhanced athletically just as much as today’s cursed HGH users but cheered on by the media of his day and inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame.

How much progress we have made!

  1. Chris Fiorentino - Jan 10, 2013 at 9:07 AM

    So when the manager came out of the dugout to remove Galvin for a relief pitcher, did he “pull his Pud”?

    • paperlions - Jan 10, 2013 at 9:16 AM

      This may be why Galvin had so many complete games, the manager just didn’t want to deal with those types of headlines.

      • historiophiliac - Jan 10, 2013 at 9:43 AM

        Yes, managers in the 1880’s were grossly concerned about fans who could read…and, also, off-color jokes. lol

    • The Dangerous Mabry - Jan 10, 2013 at 11:27 AM

      I’m getting flashbacks of a Bowling Green Hotrods game I attended a few years ago where the starting pitcher was a Mr Steve Hiscock.

      “So, you guys think the manager is gonna head out there and yank Hiscock?”

      “Hiscock is really getting knocked around out there”

      “The pitching coach should sit down between innings and talk to Hiscock for a while”

      And so on.

      Juvenile, sure. But man, we just couldn’t stop laughing. Poor Steve.

  2. escapingexile - Jan 10, 2013 at 9:11 AM

    Extract of monkey testicles aside, this guy wouldn’t even be a HOF’er if it were left up to the writers of today. I can hear them now…. “311 games lost? That’s preposterous! So what he had 649 complete games. He threw 6003 innings and only had 1807 strikeouts. That’s an abysmal 2.71K/9. He’s out. Now let’s talk about this Jack Morris fellow.”

    • 18thstreet - Jan 10, 2013 at 9:23 AM

      He was just a compiler. Never started a World Series game. Never started the All-Star Game. Never lead the league in wins. Gave up more than 500 hits in a season 5 times, and 600 hit once.

      Never even got a Cy Young vote. Of course, he started pitching when Cy Young himself was 12. But the great ones find a way.

      • escapingexile - Jan 10, 2013 at 9:30 AM

        “2.85 career ERA? ERA-shme-r-a. Pitchers have no control over that obscure statistic. Hell, if he was hall worthy, we’d have a Pud Galvin award. A real man finishes what they start. Started 688 games and could only complete 646 of them. He’s out.”

      • 18thstreet - Jan 10, 2013 at 1:39 PM

        In all seriousness — his career ERA+ is 107. I’m not going to do a deep dive into the life and times of Pud Galvin, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he’s not deserving his place in Cooperstown. Most of the mistakes are by the Veterans Committee, after all.

      • nothanksimdriving123 - Jan 10, 2013 at 2:15 PM

        Gotta stand up for my man Pud. He was the 2nd guy in big league history to pitch two no-hitters. That means he has two more than Grover Cleveland Alexander, Mordecai Brown, Steve Carlton, Roger Clemens, Dizzy Dean, Don Drysdale, Whitey Ford, Tom Glavine, Lefty Grove, Waite Hoyt, Fergie Jenkins, Greg Maddux, Joe McGinnity, Hal Newhouser, Robin Roberts, John Smoltz, Don Sutton, Rube Waddell and Early Wynn combined.

  3. smoochytherhino - Jan 10, 2013 at 9:31 AM

    Leaving aside that several deserving non-PED (presumably) users were kept out this year (I hate the “first ballot” argument), I am not impressed with an argument using a pitcher from 30 years after the Civil War was being fought to excuse steroid use from this year’s crop of HOF candidates. There is nothing wrong with voters deciding it is a disqualifier and nothing wrong with “judging” players for it. That’s the job of the writers who vote for the HOF. This is not a court of law, it’s a HOF vote, and they don’t need admissible evidence on which to base their decisions.

    There are more than 500 writers that vote for the HOF and that is a sufficient safeguard against a few writers hijacking the results. Keeping out certain players doesn’t erase them from the record books, but it does deny them an honor, and there is nothing wrong with exacting that type of punishment for using PEDs. I don’t care if others were “looking the other way” the HOF is for exemplars and most writers felt they were undeserving. I would hope certain managers, owners, and administrators would be dealt the same blow for being enablers.

    • historiophiliac - Jan 10, 2013 at 9:34 AM

      It is a little odd applying pre-FDA history to an FDA world.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 10, 2013 at 9:41 AM

      There is nothing wrong with voters deciding it is a disqualifier and nothing wrong with “judging” players for it

      They never cared before, so why care now?

      • smoochytherhino - Jan 10, 2013 at 9:56 AM

        I assume by they you mean writers and perhaps you are reasoning that they didn’t call out players for PED use during their playing careers and then used it later to keep them out of HOF. Correct me if I’m misstating your point. If that’s it I disagree.

        It would have been nice if the writers had done their jobs and followed leads on PED use and exposed it for what it was, when it was. But just because that didn’t happen doesn’t mean that the players that used should be given a free pass into the HOF. They are separate incidences, and players don’t deserve to be patted on the back just because they weren’t the only wrongdoers of the steroid era.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 10, 2013 at 11:31 AM

        I assume by they you mean writers and perhaps you are reasoning that they didn’t call out players for PED use during their playing careers and then used it later to keep them out of HOF. Correct me if I’m misstating your point. If that’s it I disagree.

        No, but it is a good point (your assumption)*. I’m saying that throughout the history of the game, the players have been cheating in some form or another, and that never prevented their induction into the HoF. Guys threw spit balls, guys corked bats, guys tried taking sheep testicle extract for testosterone purposes, guys took federally banned amphetamines, etc. The writers never cared then as there was no hand wringing over whether Mays/Aaron should get in the HoF, or whether Babe Ruth should be allowed in**.

        So why do they care now? What has changed?

        *I also think it’s a bit hypocritical for writers, like Howard Bryant of ESPN, to absolve the writers of all responsibility for the steroid mess and place it solely on the players. MLB and the Writers were just as complicit in not caring about PEDs as the players and fans were. If you are going to care now, and say taking PEDs is bad, you better have a reason as to why it’s bad and it better not be “because of the children”.

        **Interesting factoid, Ty Cobb received more HoF votes than Babe Ruth did (courtesy of JoePos); however, they were inducted before the character clause was included (also courtesy of JoePos).

    • cktai - Jan 10, 2013 at 9:57 AM

      What I lack is that writers who want to keep current users out never seem to want to remove the PED users of old. If you are truly a hardliner on PEDs, then how could you stand for Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron or Willie Mays being in the hall? I’m ok with not voting for Clemens and Bonds, but only if you simultaneously make the argument that previous substance users are also removed from the hall.

      • smoochytherhino - Jan 10, 2013 at 10:03 AM

        Because what’s done is done. No reason to make the perfect the enemy of the good. I say let them deal with what’s in front them.

  4. historiophiliac - Jan 10, 2013 at 9:31 AM

    I cannot wait to see how Japanese bloggers explain that Craig is a shill for monkey testicle juice.

    • escapingexile - Jan 10, 2013 at 9:39 AM

      Only a man hopped up on the monkey juice wouldn’t appreciate a Yu Darvish museum. This would definitely explain the snarky attitude.

    • paperlions - Jan 10, 2013 at 10:48 AM

      I hear monkey testicle juice will cure baldness. Every seen a bald monkey?

      • The Dangerous Mabry - Jan 10, 2013 at 11:30 AM

        Heh. I couldn’t help but Google it.

      • paperlions - Jan 10, 2013 at 11:38 AM

        Too funny, you think they injected him with human testicle juice?

      • historiophiliac - Jan 10, 2013 at 12:02 PM

        Little Burnsides! That’s awesome.

  5. yahmule - Jan 10, 2013 at 9:43 AM

    I’m kind of scared to ask exactly how this monkey testicle juice was administered.

    • historiophiliac - Jan 10, 2013 at 9:45 AM

      I’d be more worried about how it was extracted.

      • El Bravo - Jan 10, 2013 at 10:30 AM

        Aw man, almost lost my coffee on this retort…HA!

  6. El Bravo - Jan 10, 2013 at 10:30 AM

    Hey I linked to Pud yesterday in the comments. smh

    • historiophiliac - Jan 10, 2013 at 12:00 PM

      poor Bravo

      • El Bravo - Jan 10, 2013 at 12:12 PM

        Just call me the Rodney Dangerfield of HBT.

  7. pauleee - Jan 10, 2013 at 10:54 AM

    I think I was 11 years old. I had just got a pack of baseball cards at the little league trailer and was going through them. One off them was an olde-timey guy named Pud Galvin. I’m walking with my dad and my coach and they see it and my dad goes “Back in the Navy, pud had a totally different meaning!”. My coach and dad laughed and I stared blankly at them, out of the loop.


  8. unclemosesgreen - Jan 10, 2013 at 11:07 AM

    How can we be sure that it was the placebo effect? There could have been a monkey-stroking factory that used elaborate monkey porn and advanced monkey-spunk collection methods?

    Forget about the deadball era, maybe it was really just the monkeyballs era.

  9. thewrongalex - Jan 10, 2013 at 2:43 PM

    Just looked at Pud Galvin’s b-r page and this blew my mind – if you look at his 10 most similar players, they cover every decade in baseball from the 1870s to the 2000s. I’m not sure how many players there are with that kind of range but it seems impressive.

    the players: Bobby Mathews, 1871-1887; Kid Nichols, 1890-1906; Pete Alexander, 1911-1930; Warren Spahn, 1942-1965; Gaylord Perry, 1962-1983; Greg Maddux, 1986-2008

  10. thebigtim2012 - Jan 10, 2013 at 5:43 PM

    What a small world I was just banned from the bocce world championship for monkey testicle extract use.

    • yahmule - Jan 10, 2013 at 11:36 PM

      And they’re never going to let you back in the primate house at the zoo.

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