Rafael Palmeiro strolled back into Baltimore this weekend for the first time since being outed as a steroid cheat in 2005.
The former first baseman was accused of being a performance enhancing drug user by ex-Rangers teammate Jose Canseco in his book, "Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big." Canseco boldly wrote that he personally injected Palmeiro with steroids.
The book created a firestorm in the national pastime and Palmeiro became a YouTube legend on March 17, 2005, after pointing his finger in the face of a United States Congressional subcommittee looking into the corrupt steroid culture in Major League Baseball and uttering the now infamous words: "I have never used steroids. I don't know how to say it any more clearly than that."
Just 137 days after his bold statement, on August 1, 2005, Palmeiro become the first notable major leaguer to be suspended for failing a steroid test.
Palmeiro claimed he never used steroids, saying it was a dirty B-12 shot given to him from teammate Miguel Tejada that caused the failed test. Few baseball fans believed him.
All of this took place 17 days after Palmeiro joined the exclusive 3,000 hit club on July 15, 2005. While that magical moment would be a glorious moment for most ballplayers, it turned out to be a horror show for the Cuban born slugger.
"You know that 3,000th hit, going through that was a nightmare," Palmeiro told the Baltimore Sun. "'Cause I was going through the issues I was having with the commissioner's office (with his failed steroid test). I don't look back on 3,000 hits as a celebration. I look back on that as a nightmare."
All these years later, Palmeiro swears his farfetched story about the tainted B-12 shot is the gospel. "It's the only explanation there is," Palmeiro said. "I don't have another explanation to give. Did I inject myself with steroids? No, I didn't. Could it have been the B-12?
"It's the only logical explanation I have. People can choose to believe me or not."
That failed steroid exam ended Palmeiro's 20-year career that included stints with the Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers (twice) and Baltimore (twice).
At age 47, Palmeiro was back in the Charm City on Sunday to sign autographs, charging from $69-to-$99 for his signature. The member of the 500-homer, 3,000-hit club, wearing an orange sweater, showed up close to three hours late, claiming his flight from Texas had mechanical issues. Fans lined up anyway.
Palmeiro is 52nd on Major League Baseball's all-time salary list, after making $89,295,996 during his 20 seasons.
With lots of free time on his hands in retirement, Palmeiro told the Baltimore Sun he dabbles in the construction development business in Texas and takes part in a few memorabilia shows every year while spending lots of time with his two sons.
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