Baseball Coach Jim Brock of Arizona State has chosen to fight rather than quit.
According to a story in the Arizona Republic last Friday, some Arizona State players have been given a controversial mood-altering drug to increase performance, and Brock was rumored to be contemplating his resignation.
Late Monday night, however, Brock told the Phoenix Gazette that he is not stepping down.
“I had decided to hang it up after 14 years because the articles in the (Arizona) Republic had done so much damage to ASU baseball that to remove me from it would be in the best interest of the program,” he said. “It’s always been my feeling that no one could fight the Arizona Republic if they went after you, but rather than quitting, I’m going to fight them.”
The Republic story quoted the players as saying that they had not been warned that the drug could have serious side effects and, under certain conditions, be fatal.
The drug, phenzine sulfate, is a hydrazine derivative marketed under the name of Nardil . It is generally given as a last resort to people suffering from severe neurotic depression. It also is supposed to improve stamina and performance.
It is being prescribed for the players by Dr. James Gough, a Scottsdale, Ariz., psychiatrist who formerly worked as director of mental health for Student Health Services at Arizona State.
Use of the drug by athletes does not violate Pacific 10 Conference rules.
Brock was quoted in the story as saying that players and coaches are happy with the work Gough has done, that at one time he was being counseled by Gough and was prescribed Nardil, which he used until a couple of years ago.
The controversy was raging when Arizona State played USC here last weekend. In fact, ASU pitching coach Tim Kelly guided the club for last Sunday’s game when Brock chose not to suit up and watched the game from the stands.
Brock refused to say then if the reason he wasn’t in uniform was related to the drug controversy, but sources close to the team said that he was extremely upset and angry.
Even had there been no drug controversy, this hasn’t exactly been the best of seasons for Arizona State.
“Everything that can possibly happen has happened,” Brock said. “This is the most difficult time I’ve been through in coaching.”
Arizona State can’t even compete for the Southern Division title in the Pac-10, having been put on probation for a year by the conference for violations of the school’s work-study program.
In addition, the Sun Devils were stripped of their 1984 conference title, lost 14 scholarships over the next four years, and the five players involved in the work-study program were ruled ineligible for the first 16 games this season.
Things really got bad after the season started. In addition to not having the five players, Arizona State was hit by so many injuries that at one point last month, Brock was practically fielding a junior-varsity team.
“We’ve only used the No. 1 lineup--the club we were supposed to have--once, for the first game against Texas (Feb. 22). We wrote it on the card once, anyway,” Brock said. “Then in the game, (catcher Don) Wakamatsu and (first baseman Louie) Medina went out.”
Arizona State is nearly at full strength, however, and has won seven of its last nine to raise its record to 16-23. Before sweeping three games from UCLA two weeks ago, the Sun Devils had lost 7 of 8, 11 of 13 and 18 of 22. And, after a 0-5 start in league play, they are 6-6.
All is not well with USC, either, despite the unrelenting optimism of Coach Rod Dedeaux.
The Trojans were supposed to be one of the Pac-10 Southern Division’s elite teams this season. In fact, there were those who picked them to win the title.
Lately, though, USC has been losing more than winning. In fact, the Trojans have been getting routed.
Oh, USC played well last Saturday at Dedeaux Field and beat Arizona State, 8-3, in the second game of a three-game conference series, but it was just a brief respite from what has become the norm.
The victory snapped a five-game losing streak--to Stanford twice, Oral Roberts, San Diego State and Arizona State--during which the Trojans were outscored, 64-19, outhit, 88-47, and committed 15 errors. That’s hardly the stuff of champions.
The Trojans lost again Sunday to ASU, 11-9, in 15 innings, leaving them with a 4-8 record. So instead of being at the top of the standings, they are fifth in the six-team league, just half a game ahead of UCLA. Losers of nine of their last 11, they are 15-20 overall.
Pitching figured to be one of USC’s strengths, but it has become a liability. The team earned-run average is 6.14, and in 309 innings the staff has yielded 368 hits and 208 walks. In league games, the ERA is 7.02.
Dedeaux concedes that his pitching has been something less than sensational but said the biggest problem has been at catcher, where Damon Oppenheimer and Brian Nichols both are sidelined with injuries.
Their absence has forced Dedeaux to use Kalani Perry, a freshman from Hauula, Hawaii. Sophomore Paul Fuller can catch, but Dedeaux wants to use him as the designated hitter.
College Baseball Notes Arizona State is back in Southern California to participate in the week-long Riverside Baseball Invitational. The Sun Devils played UCLA Tuesday night. . . . Arizona State first baseman Louie Medina is learning to bat left-handed while recovering from a torn muscle in his right forearm. Besides swinging at balls mounted on a batting tee and taking regular batting practice, he has undergone hypnosis and has viewed tapes of a left-handed hitter of note, Ted Williams. . . . Medina, who throws left-handed, missed 17 games after suffering the injury five weeks ago while swinging a 50-ounce leaded bat in warmups. He returned to the lineup last Wednesday against Nebraska and batted left-handed twice. He walked and singled sharply to right. In two right-handed at-bats, he sacrificed and struck out . . . Against USC last weekend, Medina batted left-handed once in three games, grounding out in the series opener. In all, he went 4 for 10, including a run-scoring double off the wall in left-center and a line-drive homer to right, and raised his average to .395. . . . Medina, a 6-foot 3-inch, 190-pound senior who transferred to Arizona State from Cerritos College, batted .318 with 17 homers and 67 RBIs last season.