Ford Christopher Frick
Third Commissioner of Major League Baseball
Ford Frick began his association with baseball as a member of the media, first as a newspaper reporter and later in radio where he pioneered the reporting of sports news and scores. In late 1934, he was appointed President of the National League. In this capacity, his two most notable achievements concerned the following:
• He played a key role in the establishment of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, in Cooperstown, New York.
• In 1947, several players of the National League's St. Louis Cardinals baseball team planned to protest Commissioner Happy Chandler's decision to eliminate major league baseball's color barrier. Frick immediately threatened the players with suspension, thus ending the protest.
Ford Frick was appointed the third Commissioner of Major League Baseball in 1951. Unofficially, it was rumored that he was the baseball owners' solution to the more independent, uncontrollable Chandler.
It was during the 1950s and early 1960s that the topic of steroid use in organized athletics first entered onto the international scene, as exemplified by the following:
• Olympic athletes at the 1952 Helsinki games were reported to be using steroids.
• In 1954, U.S. Olympic team doctor John Ziegler unofficially learned from a Soviet contemporary that Soviet athletes had used steroids during the 1952 games.
• By 1958, the U.S. Olympic weightlifting team was being administered dianabol, a steroid developed by Dr. Ziegler.
• In 1963, the strength coach of professional football's San Diego Chargers served his linemen steroids at breakfast during preseason training.
His service during the 1950s and early 1960s made Frick the first commissioner to learn of the use of steroids to enhance athletic performance. Given the prominence of his position in professional sports, Ford Frick, in all probability, was aware of the use of steroids by Olympic athletes and professional football players. It is also likely that Frick and his contemporaries believed that the use of dianabol and similar drugs would be limited to strength-related sports figures, e.g., Olympic weightlifters and professional football linemen. Although Frick and the baseball establishment were undoubtedly aware of the use of steroids in professional football, there is no evidence of concern, at the time of his 1965 retirement, that steroids would become a problem in major league baseball.
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