An MLB Mascot Got Busted For Selling Cocaine To Players And Sparked A Massive Scandal

Pittsburgh Pirates mascot Pirate Parrot

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Most professional sports teams employ a mascot whose primary job is to entertain fans during games—although one man who worked for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1980s ended up in some very hot water for providing the team’s own players with a slightly different type of enjoyment.

If you’re familiar with what the MLB was like in the 1980s (or simply the decade as a whole), you’re likely very aware plenty of baseball players also spent plenty of time hitting the metaphorical slopes with the help of the cocaine that had a tendency to flow like an avalanche in the clubhouse and beyond.

While teams obviously frowned upon that particular habit, there was really only so much they could do to prevent professional athletes with millions of dollars at their disposal from partaking in that particular activity.

However, the Pirates certainly didn’t get any help from the man who was paid to don the costume for the mascot dubbed “The Pirates Parrot,” as the franchise (and the league it belongs to) found itself with a bit of a scandal on its hands courtesy of what transpired in 1985.

The time the mascot for the Pittsburgh Pirates got busted for selling cocaine to players

Pittsburgh Pirates mascot Pirate Parrot

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The world was introduced to The Pirate Parrot when the mascot (inspired by Long John Silver’s trusty sidekick in Treasure Island) hatched out of an egg at Three Rivers Stadium on April 1, 1979; it may have been April Fools’ Day, but the stunt marked the start of a very real era that continues to this day.

The first man to step into the costume was Kevin Koch, who seemed to have no problem performing the various duties that come with that particular line of work. That included possessing the fairly high level of energy you need to be a mascot—although he may have had some help from a certain performance-enhancing drug.

In 1985, Koch got a knock on his door and discovered a couple of FBI agents who were investigating Dale Shiffman, a friend who’d been supplying him with the cocaine he personally used on a regular basis and routinely sold to players at Pirates games.

Koch was threatened with more than 100 federal charges if he failed to cooperate with the investigators who were intent on nailing Shiffman while exposing the widespread use of the drug in the MLB, and the information he helped them dig up led to the “Pittsburgh Drug Trials”  that implicated notable names including Keith Hernandez, Tim Raines, and Vida Blue.

Koch (who was given immunity and got clean after the scandal broke) admitted to using cocaine while working as The Pirate Parrot, supplying players with drugs, and introducing some of them to Shiffman so they didn’t have to rely on a middleman to get their fix.

While he understandably found himself out of a job, the Pirates opted to stick with the mascot (unlike the Bulls, who parted ways with the “cousin” of Benny the Bull after the man inside the uniform was caught selling marijuana while off the clock in the mid-1990s).

The 1980s were truly a wild time.

Connor O'Toole avatar
Connor Toole is the Deputy Editor at BroBible. He is a New England native who went to Boston College and currently resides in Brooklyn, NY. Frequently described as "freakishly tall," he once used his 6'10" frame to sneak in the NBA Draft and convince people he was a member of the Utah Jazz.