The Baytown Sun from Baytown, Texas on April 24, 1986 · Page 16
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The Baytown Sun from Baytown, Texas · Page 16

Baytown, Texas
Issue Date:
Thursday, April 24, 1986
Page 16
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Page 16 article text (OCR)

4-B THE BAYTOWN SUN . April 84. Saved by baseball Porter kicks habit with help of his profession From Page 1-B depression — drugs and alcohol." In 1976, heavily into cocaine, Porter learned he couldn't mix baseball and drugs. His average bottomed out at .208 and his home run output fell from 18 (1975) to five. "The Brewers tried to help me, but they didn't know what was going on. At that point, I wasn't ready to help myself," Porter said. "The next year I was traded to Kansas City, and I decided to restructure my goals. Baseball was something I loved, and I wanted to achieve success. I quit some drugs and used others only at night." It became a vicious circle. "I'd go out drinking after games, then go to my room and smoke a joint or take a downer or both. The next day I'd greenie up {take amphetamines) so I could play again," Porter said. "Quaaludes were my drug of choice. A lot of people it zaps down, but it made me feel wonderful." Somehow Porter balanced his career and his drug use over the next three years, enjoying his best seasons. He helped the Royals win division champion- ships in 1977 and 1978 and into their first World Series in 1960. "Nobody ever concentrated or worked on their game any harder than I did during those years," Porter said. "It was the only thing I had to live for. I dedicated every waking moment to baseball, and that's why I was able to be successful." It resulted, drugs or no drugs, in Porter's finest season in 1979: a .291 average, 20 home runs, 112 RBI and a league-leading 121 walks. "That may have been as good a year as any catcher ever had. I thought I was the best all-around catcher in the game," Porter said. "But at the end of the year, I found myself sitting back wondering why I felt the same way. I was still miserable inside. Baseball was still all I had. I'd been doing all those drugs and had yet to deal with my problems." Back in Oklahoma City that off-season, Porter tried the only solution he knew — more drugs. "I started doing three grams of cocaine a day,"'Porter said. "I'd ration it out so I'd have just enough to get back to my dealer. I'd hit the cocaine in the morning, then drink a case of beer to get back down again so I could sleep. I can't tell you how miserable I was." The cocaine habit, for that's what it had become, was costing Porter $2,000 a week that off- season. "In the past, I'd always been able to get things under control and start getting ready for the next season in late December," Porter recalled. "This time I couldn't break away. I went to spring training in about as bad a shape, physically and mentally, as you can be." It was at Fort Myers that Newcombe stopped by the Royals' camp to deliver his talk on drugs and alcohol. "He asked about 15 questions and said if you could answer three yes, then you had a problem," Porter said. "I'd answered 12 or 13 yes." Porter found the nerve to go talk to Newcombe. "I was so miserable, I didn't mind taking the risk," Porter said. Royals 1 general manager Joe Burke told Porter he'd have to commit himself to The Meadows, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Wickenburg, Ariz., before he could return to the Royals. "1 rededicated myself to the Lord and re-established a relationship with Him,"said Porter. "It was the only path back." For Porter, who has remarried (Deanne) and has two children (Lindsey, 4; Jeffrey almost 2) there's nothing but fading memories in black and white of that horrible time. "I don't remember a lot. I've blocked a lot of it out, and I had a few blackouts, too. I feel for guys who are going through what I did, because I know how much of a hold, how much power, drugs have over you," Porter said. "You get used to dealing with your problems with drugs as a crutch, then you're thrust back to the reality of having to handle them all by yourself again. You lose your identity in drugs and alcohol, and it's not easy to get it back. I still struggle with problems. I still make mistakes. But I'm not alone anymore." That realization alone has made Porter's long night's journey into day worthwhile. Porter's career flourished again, and he was the World Series MVP for St. Louis in 1982. He returned for his third Series last fall. When the Rangers went shopping for catching and left-handed hitting help and found Porter was a free-agent bargain, they quickly scooped him up. It's been a decision neither side regrets. Barnett hopes to help self with position move From Page 1-B this season with a 26-25 overall record (prior to Wednesday's game with Northeast Louisiana University). They finished second to Hardin-Simmons University in the West Division of the Trans America Athletic Conference with an 8-7 record, which means there will be no post-season play for them. While that portion of the season has been a disappointment, Barnett has few bad thoughts about his performance. Name an offensive category, and he leads the team. The list: batting average (.370). runs scored (36), hits (62), doubles (12), home runs (6), runs batted in (41). The only department in which he has fallen short of personal goals is homers. "My goal was to hit 10. We've got four games left, "he said. The Gentlemen will close the season with a double-header against Northwest Louisiana and a nine-inning game with nationally-ranked Louisiana State University. While the homer total may be difficult to reach, Barnett has another reason to keep plugging away. His batting average ranks him among the top 10 in the TAAC. At one point, he held down the No. 3 position. It will take a strong finish to rise any higher. Among others who are fighting for the batting championship is Hardin-Simmons shortstop Steve Arias, who played his sophomore season at Lee College under Coach Rod Soesbe. Arias earned All-America honors in 1985 with a .411 average. If nothing else, Barnett hopes to have the satisfaction of closing the ^eason with an upset victory over LSU. That feat shouldn't be hard to fathom, considering Centenary nearly turned the trick earlier this season. "We were up 5-3 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth the first time we played them." Barnett said. "But we made two errors, and they hit a double to beat us. They were ranked No. 1 at the time." LSU has fallen a few notches in the current poll, but it is no less of an obstacle. "You get pretty pumped up for them." Barnett said. "There are a lot of people there, and they like to ride you. But it's good to have the fans. They get you going. They get you pumped." When the air is let out of this season, Barnett will return to Baytown and pick up some catching equipment. If that's what it takes to lengthen his baseball career, he is prepared to give it a whirl. "I just want to help the team, and maybe get a chance to go on." he said. "I know it will be hard work, but I think I can do it." Lewis has 4 chances to make the state meet From Page 1-B finals will be later that afternoon. In the fall. Lewis will be headed for Howard Payne University, where he has a football scholarship. Notes: The Liberty golf team captured the District 14-4A tournament championship on April 15-16 at C.E. King . . . The Panthers are District 10-4A competitors in fall and winter sports, but switch to 14-iA for the spring events . . . Kyle Jerome was the tournament medalist, shooting a 73 on the first day and a 68 on the second day . . . Rounding out the Liberty quartet. Chris Rieve shot 77-75-152. Chad Fry sbo-: a>7S-l59 and Greg Stub- Lee College boxscores blefield shot 88-89-177 . . . Huntsviile was 21 strokes off the Panthers' pace with a two-day total of 657 . . . Liberty will advance to the Region III meet at Waterwood Country Club on April 30-May 1 ... "Another 636 may be good enough to win it. although it's tough to say," said Liberty Coach Don Hughes. "Waterwood is a very tough course. Friendswood will be tough as usual, along with Huntsviile and Jacksonville. Athens is usually pretty salty too, but I don't know much about them this year." . . . Claude Tarver has been named the new head football coach at Hamshire-Fannett in District 20-3A. A former assistant at Anahuac under Gary Childress, Tarver left the Panthers in 1978 with Childress to coach at North Mesquite . . . Tarver was reportedly a top candidate for the Channelview job that eventually went to Jim Scible last year . . . The Barbers Hill girls golf team finished second to Hardin- Jefferson in the District 20-3A tournament held at Anahuac last week, and will advance to the regional tourney in Brenham . . . The Crosby sports banquet will be held at 6:30 p.m. on May l in the high school commons. Athletes from every sport except football will be recognized by their respective coaches . . . Tickets for the event, which is sponsored by the athletic department, are $5 and available either from Athletic Director Ronnie Davenport or at the door . . . Former Crosby kicker Lee Paul Deajon may join teammate Mike Otis in an attempt to walk on to the football team at Stephen F. Austin State University. • r LEE Moore c! . Easlev dh . . . DeLeon2t> Walker If SimsSb . ... Tanton c . . . Bingham rf . . Tre%-inoss . Bookniyer Ib ReynoldsZb . Totals Lee HH1 First game HILL ab .4 •* 2 .4 3 . .4 .3 ..3 ..3 2 30 r h bi 0 0 0 I 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 •> 0 1 1 2 0 0 I 1 8 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 Groves ss . . Wallace If . . Newman rt . Pardolb Hawrylak dh WaJters c. . . . Weils cf Heroen2b . . Peterman 3b Totals -- 000 000 ab ..2 ..3 ..3 2 ..3 ..3 3 ..2 ..3 34 010 001 r h bi 0 0 0 1 0 0 i 0 0 2 0 0 1 0 1 0 n 0 2 c 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 5 0—1 1—2 CAR IMPROVEMENT SPECIALISTS Super savings on Sun-Roofs E — Moore. 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