It is fairly well established that drinking alcohol has few training benefits… By fairly well established, what I really mean is that the evidence proves that both smoking and drinking significantly impair physical performance and recovery.
Nonetheless, alcohol consumption remains a part of sport in Australia. In fact, sports participants’ in Australia report higher than average alcohol consumption rates compared to the non-sporting population, with a large proportion (~50–65%) consuming intakes above the threshold classified as hazardous drinking.
And this includes the best athletes in the world. A dietary survey of elite / professional Australian Rules football players revealed that large amounts of alcohol were consumed postgame; these self-reported practices were confirmed by the high prevalence of positive blood alcohol readings when blood samples were collected from these players at a training session on the morning after a match.
So given the growing body of evidence against drinking, I have complied this list of the top 5 hardest drinking athletes of all time… It really is amazing that they were able to achieve as much as they did, and amazing to think what they could have done sober…
Metta World Peace
Sport (Years Played): Basketball (1999-Present)
Career Highlights: 2010 NBA Champion, 2004 NBA All-Star, 2004 NBA Defensive Player of the Year
“I used to drink Hennessy … at halftime. I (kept it) in my locker. I’d just walk to the liquor store (near the stadium) and get it.”
Metta World Peace (born Ron Artest) gained a reputation as one of the league’s premier defenders as he won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2004. He was a participant in several controversial on-court incidents, most notably the Pacers–Pistons brawl and is known for his sometimes eccentric and outspoken behaviour.
Metta World Peace has admitted that he used to drink Hennessy instead of water or sports drinks in the locker room in his time with the Chicago Bulls..
Sport (Years Played): Golf (1987-Present)
Career Highlights: Five PGA Tour wins, Two Major Championships
“I was never able to have three of four beers. One’s too many, and ten just ain’t enough.”
“if you’re not drunk, golf is pretty damn boring.???
John Daly is a real life Happy Gilmore with more highlights off the green than on it.. Daly has been in and out of more AA programs than anyone can remember and has gone through four divorces since becoming a “professional athletes???.
Any doubt about whether Daly drank around tournaments was dashed when Daly was visibly seen shaking as he tried to play in the 1998 Greater Vancouver Open. Apparently he even once admitted that “if you’re not drunk, golf is pretty damn boring.??? So apparently he tried his best to play drunk.
Sport (years Played): Baseball (2003-Present)
Career Highlights: 7x All-Star, 2003 World Series Champion
Miguel Cabrera is still one of the most respected professional baseballer and apparently an equally heavy drinker.
The night before a one-game playoff, following a ‘domestic disturbance’ at Cabrera’s home to which the police were called, he reportedly blew a blood alcohol level of .26, more than three times the legal limit.
And then, just one year later he’s the first Triple Crown winner in 45 years – leading the league with 44 home runs, 139 RBIs, and .330 batting average.
Sport (Years Played): Baseball (1914-1935)
Career Highlights: 7x World Series Champion, 2x All-Star, 1923 AL MVP
“Sometimes when I reflect on all the beer I drink, I feel ashamed. Then I look into the glass and think about the workers in the brewery and all of their hopes and dreams. If I didn’t drink this beer, they might be out of work and their dreams would be shattered. I think, ‘It is better to drink this beer and let their dreams come true than be selfish and worry about my liver.’???
“It’s simple kids, if you drink and smoke and eat and screw as much as me? Well, kiddos, someday you’ll be just as good at sports!???
One of the greatest athletes of all time right?
By the end of his career, Ruth had set records in OBP, Slugging Percentage, Home Runs, Wins Above Replacement, On Base Percentage, Walks, Cigars Smoked, Runs Batted In, Hot Dogs Consumed, 4th in Fistfights Started and had a rep as one of the biggest drinkers the game has ever known (and this was during prohibition no less).
There are too many stories to cover here. But this is my favourite (see the video below) where a team mate finds Babe drunk to the point of not being able to speak, sitting in front of his locker with his pants on backwards before the game. He drags him out onto the field then Babe uses a bat as a walking stick to get to the plate, and hits the first ball pitched a half a mile clean out of the ball park! Amazing or just a lucky swing?
Sport (Years Played): Baseball (1951-1968)
Career Highlights: 20x All-Star, 3x AL MVP, 7x World Series Champion
“I began some of my mornings the past 10 years with the “breakfast of champions”—a big glass filled with a shot or more of brandy, some Kahlúa and cream.”
Mickey Mantle is a seven-time World Series champion and a 20-time MLB all-star, and pretty much the patron saint of drunk baseball players.
He has confessed to playing drunk for seasons at a time.
While most drunks have a hard time just pouring their next drink, Mickey Mantle somehow managed to hit baseballs going 90 mph over a fence 350 feet away. In fact, he did it 536 times. Not always drunk, sometimes just hungover.
In the end Mickey’s drinking wasn’t too funny. He struggled with alcoholism all his life before it killed him at the age of 63.
Is there anyone we missed?
Cameron is the Director of Pro Training Programs