There are two big takeaways from this video of John Gotti, former head of the Gambino crime family talking to his grandson from prison in 1998: 1) God, that guy sure was an asshole and 2) He seemed to know how infested baseball was with steroids before any of us did.
The New York Post dug up this video of Gotti, who at the time was serving a life sentence in the federal penitentiary in Illinois. He’s meeting with his daughter Victoria and her son John. Young John says that he wants to be a baseball player. The Boss’ response?
“You ain’t gonna be a baseball player or a basketball player,” Grandpa told him in the surveillance video below. “Let me tell you something about baseball and basketball players. First of all, you got to be a good liar, a good lowlife, and an imbecile… You gotta take steroids. You must take steroids! And anybody that takes steroids is a garbage pail.”
Young John, realizing that a man serving a life sentence for murder, racketeering, obstruction of justice and illegal gambling among other charges was telling him that taking steroids would make him a bad person, replied “Then I’ll be a crook.” Gotti didn’t like hearing that and ripped his grandson a new one for it.
This was the same year that Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa went on to break Roger Maris’ single-season home run record, when most of the world believed that they were watching history in the making rather than two juiceheads swing a piece of lumber. For as much of a dick as Gotti was — to his own family and to those who owed him money, testified against him, et al. — he knew before the rest of us that to be good in that era, you needed an edge.