"Mex," as they called him, was returning to Shea Stadium for the first time since giving testimony at the Pittsburgh drug trials. A cocaine-user for a short period while with the St. Louis Cardinals, Hernandez was just one of several major leaguers to also testified to their own drug use.
His absence from the club in the middle of a pennant chase in 1985 would certainly prove detrimental to the Mets. And his past use was sure to tarnish his image.
Until it didn't.
As he strolled to home plate for his first at-bat following the trial, the Shea crowd gave him a standing ovation. The support was overwhelmingly positive. Cocaine use, at that time, was determined to be more of a social issue than one where a player was trying to cheat the game.
That's where Alex Rodriguez comes in.
A-Rod's return to Yankee Stadium after appealing a 211 game suspension for PED use was greeted with a split of boos and cheers. After striking out the first, second and third times of the evening, it was 100% boos. The lack of support was likely due to how A-Rod helped tarnish the game with repeated offenses of PED use.
There is nothing more sacred in baseball than its record book. A-Rod, and all the other PED users, are now more aware of this than ever.