Lonnie Smith Tells Jury of Cocaine Buys : Says He, Andujar, Hernandez Used Drug Sold by Defendant
Kansas City Royal outfielder Lonnie Smith, the first of six current players scheduled to testify against drug defendant Curtis Strong, said Thursday that he had used cocaine with former St. Louis Cardinal teammates Keith Hernandez and Joaquin Andujar.
Smith said he repeatedly made purchases and that one transaction took place three weeks before the 1982 World Series. The Cardinals beat Milwaukee in the Series, four games to three, with Andujar the winning pitcher of the final game.
Smith said that Strong sometimes delivered the cocaine to his hotel room and would often stay to use the drug with Smith and other players.
“Did you use cocaine with Keith Hernandez?” U.S. Attorney J. Alan Johnson asked Smith.
“Yes,” the player said.
“Did you use cocaine with Joaquin Andujar?” Johnson asked.
“Yes,” Smith said.
The Royal outfielder said he has not used the drug since leaving a St. Louis rehabilitation center in July 1983.
He was the only player to testify Thursday. Hernandez, now of the New York Mets, and Lee Lacy of the Baltimore Orioles are expected to be on the witness stand today.
Smith said that he was introduced to Strong in 1981 by former Philadelphia Phillie teammate Dick Davis and, with teammate Gary Matthews present, bought his first gram of the drug from Strong for $100.
“It made me feel strong,” Smith said. “It made me feel great. It made me feel a little bit invincible.”
Smith said he continued buying cocaine from Strong in larger quantities during meetings in Pittsburgh. He said he dealt with Strong even after being traded to the Cardinals and being introduced to a cocaine dealer there by Andujar.
Hernandez, Dave Parker of the Cincinnati Reds, Enos Cabell of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Jeff Leonard of the San Francisco Giants and retired Pirate utilityman John Milner would also testify that they bought cocaine from Strong, said Assistant U.S. Atty. James J. Ross.
“One of the witnesses will tell you he purchased cocaine in the restroom of the Pirates locker room,” the prosecutor told the jury of nine men and three women in his opening statement.
“If you are a baseball fan, this testimony may surprise and upset you. But major league baseball is not on trial. Curtis Strong is on trial.”
However, defense attorney Adam O. Renfroe Jr. said: “Major league baseball is on trial. The testimony you are going to hear is from people I used to idolize and people your kids may still idolize.
“To many people, these baseball players are so-called heroes. But some of these heroes are also heavy drug users. . . . They are junkies. These heroes are criminals. These hero-criminals actually have sold drugs and still are selling drugs to players around the league. These players would lie on anybody--anybody--to protect their million-dollar-a-year salaries.”
Strong, 38, of Philadelphia, briefly worked as a clubhouse caterer for the Phillies. He is on trial before U.S. District Judge Gustave Diamond on charges that he sold the white-powdered narcotic on 16 occasions between 1980 and 1984 on dates that the Pirates were at home.
Renfroe said his client is a “pitiful, pitiful sports junkie who idolized players just like you and I.”
Strong was one of seven men indicted last May in a federal grand jury investigation of drug abuse within major league baseball. The inquiry began after Pirate pitcher Rod Scurry, in April 1984, publicly admitted being addicted to cocaine and entered a rehabilitation program, Ross said.
Smith said he first tried cocaine while playing winter ball in Venezuela in 1977 but didn’t become a consistent user until reaching the major leagues in 1980.
Strong sometimes wrapped cocaine in “girlie magazines” and gave Smith his choice of several drug packets, the player said.
“I would feel for the one that was thicker,” Smith said.
Smith testified that he purchased an eighth of an ounce of cocaine from Strong for $300 when the Cardinals played the Pirates in Pittsburgh on Sept. 29 and 30, 1982. The Cardinals had already clinched the National League East championship.
After the Cardinals won the 1982 World Series, Smith said he returned to his Spartanburg, S.C., home and frequently telephoned Strong in Philadelphia to arrange mail transactions of cocaine.
Smith said he began buying a gram of cocaine once or twice a week in 1981. But by the end of the 1982 season, when he was the Cardinals’ regular left fielder, he was buying eighths of an ounce for $300 each.
Smith was the third witness to take the stand. The prosecution previously called National League administrator Blake Cullen and Pittsburgh Pirate ticket manager Norman DeLuca to clarify both the league and Pirate schedules for the 1980 through 1984 seasons.
Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth’s office said to comment would be inappropriate now, but spokesman Chuck Adams said, “We are monitoring the proceedings.”