'Seemed like a nice guy'
One thing they agree on is when they met: toward the end of the 2003 season at a celebrity bartending event at Rick's Cafe Americain, a popular players hangout in Canton that has since changed names and ownership.

While Bigbie and former Oriole Marty Cordova were bartending, Bogdan, who had family connections to the place, offered the players his assistance. Later, Bigbie said, he mentioned he was staying in Baltimore that winter and Bogdan told him if he needed anything to give him a call.

"Everybody else went home in the offseason, and I didn't really know a lot of people in the city of Baltimore besides my teammates," Bigbie said.

"He said if you ever need to get into a restaurant, if there's a long wait or something, let me know. And I thought it might be a decent connection. He seemed like a nice guy who knew a lot of people in the city and might be able to help me out."

That winter the two developed a strong friendship, and when the Orioles returned to Baltimore in 2004, Bogdan became a fixture at Camden Yards.

He wore Bigbie's jersey, parked in the players' lot, helped Bigbie with errands and picked him up after road trips.

Bogdan even gained entrance into the team's clubhouse about 10 times after games, as various players would open the side, unguarded door for him.

Some players wondered what Bigbie, a 6-foot-4, 200-pound professional athlete, was doing with a 5-9, 160-pound regular Joe who was a dozen years his elder.

But other players - such as Grimsley, Sidney Ponson and Tim Raines Jr. - embraced Bogdan into their fraternity, Bogdan said.

He said he received cell phone numbers and memorabilia from various pro athletes.

In one of the two framed pictures in the living room of Bogdan's Dundalk home, he is posing with then- New York Yankees stars Derek Jeter, Jason Giambi and Bernie Williams at Rick's. The other photo is of Bogdan with Orioles Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson and Eddie Murray at a local crabhouse.

"I was just a fortunate person who happened to meet some good guys and become friends with guys who just happened to be [baseball] players," Bogdan said.

Bogdan was with Bigbie the day the outfielder met his future wife at a White Marsh bar. They were friendly enough that Bigbie said he knows Bogdan saw him with steroids on several occasions and he's sure steroid tidbits made there way into conversations.

"It's always been my personality. I have always been the trusting kind," Bigbie said. "I think this is the one time it really burned me."

Feeling the pressure
The 21st pick overall in the 1999 draft out of Ball State, Bigbie made it to the majors in 2001, his third year in professional baseball. From then until 2003, he and Roberts lived in the home of Orioles veteran first baseman David Segui, who became like a big brother to them.

Toward the end of 2001, Bigbie said he was feeling the pressure of being a top pick and realized he needed to get stronger and develop more power if he was going to avoid being a bust.

"I just felt being a first-round draft pick and playing in a division like the AL East you had to produce as a hitter," he said. "I didn't want be that guy who just made it to the big leagues."

He sought the advice of Segui, who has since admitted to using steroids for strength and fitness purposes and hGH with a prescription for medical purposes. Segui taught him how to properly inject performance enhancers, but Bigbie said using steroids was his choice and his only - neither Segui nor anyone else pushed him into it.

"I had the opportunity to be an everyday player, and I was trying to make the most of it," said Bigbie, who was a .267 hitter in parts of six major league seasons. "Obviously, it is something I am ashamed of."

Through Segui, Bigbie met Radomski, the Mets clubhouse attendant at the time who became the central figure in the steroid scandal as a distributor to various players.