In an interview with The Chronicle before Sunday’s 2000 Giants reunion was lost to the rain, Benard made his first public admission that he took steroids. He called it “stupid” and said the only benefit is being able to use his own mistake as a lesson to his children on the perils of taking shortcuts.
“To be honest with you, it was an embarrassing moment that you can’t take back,” Benard said. “When you’re playing, you do some dumb things, thinking, ‘This is going to help me.’ You realize later on they were stupid.
“The hardest part for me was to sit my son down and explain to him what I did. The run we were making in 2002, I saw something special in the team and I wanted to be part of it. You sit there and you go, ‘How do you go about that?’ “
Benard, now 40, had a breakout year for the Giants in 1999. He hit .290, scored 100 runs and earned a three-year, $11.1 million contract. Once Benard appeared in the Mitchell Report as having taken steroids, many assumed he must have used them in 1999.
However, Benard said he used them only in 2002 after a left-knee operation in hopes of returning to a team that eventually went to the World Series. Benard had 123 at-bats that year and 71 the next. Then he was out of baseball.
“I saw something special in the team, and I wanted to be part of it,” he said. “You sit there and you go, ‘How do you go about that?’
“Telling my son was the toughest part, the toughest thing for me to realize I did something that wasn’t right. Again, it is what it is and you learn from your mistakes. It was great because I get to use that as an example to my son. ‘Hey, here I was thinking it was going to be a boost, a shortcut.’ I can look back and I can almost say it almost cost me playing a little longer.”