The first thing Porter Fischer spotted was the trunk of his silver Corolla. It was wide open. Then he noted a bashed-in passenger window and shattered glass littering the parking lot outside the Boca Tanning Club on North Federal Highway. Patrons in a nearby Starbucks peered out curiously as he sprinted to the car.
"No!" he screamed. The boxes were gone.
Fischer dashed back into the salon and yelled to the receptionist: "Call the police! Now!" Then he ran to the back, where a salon employee was tanning in a booth. It was the same place Fischer had spent the last ten minutes getting a sprayed-on sheen. He banged on the door. "They broke in!" he yelled. "They got everything!"
In the weeks that followed, Fischer would torture himself about leaving priceless cargo unattended. But the truth was, he didn't think anyone would have followed him 300 miles from Miami to a storage unit in Ocala and then to Boca Raton. He certainly never imagined a thief would be bold enough to snatch the boxes from his car in such a busy lot.
He was wrong.
The March 24 daylight burglary was just one of many gut punches Fischer has taken since removing boxes of documents from Biogenesis, the Coral Gables anti-aging clinic where he'd worked. He later shared the medical records, patient spreadsheets, and handwritten composition books with New Times for an explosive story that sparked the biggest drug-related scandal in professional sports since Lance Armstrong lost his seven Tour de France medals in 2012. Earlier this month, ESPN reported that Major League Baseball is considering suspending as many as 20 players for up to 100 games.
Fischer's motives were simple. He believed he'd been cheated by the clinic's owner, Tony Bosch, who the records indicated had sold performance-enhancing drugs to players including New York Yankees superstar Alex Rodriguez and the Toronto Blue Jays' All-Star MVP Melky Cabrera.
Fischer could never have predicted the insanity that followed the story's publication: a high-speed car chase on U.S. 1, midnight knocks on his door, death threats, and unmarked envelopes stuffed full of cash — not to mention the Boca Raton smash-and-grab.
Even worse, Fischer says, has been the jaw-dropping incompetence of the authorities he trusted. Major League Baseball spent months alternately trying to cajole and offer money to Fischer before apparently losing interest just after the break-in. And the Florida Department of Health, despite his full cooperation and reams of evidence, abruptly closed the case by giving Bosch just a citation and fine.
"Mr. Fischer approached us, and it was clear from the beginning he was seeking compensation for documents or verification," says Pat Courtney, a spokesman for MLB. "We had discussion with him on a number of occasions but never reached any agreement." (Fischer says Major League Baseball approached him and offered money.) Courtney adds that baseball has aggressively investigated Bosch's company. "Since we became aware of the Biogenesis allegations, we have pursued every legal avenue to enforce our drug program," Courtney says.
Attorneys for Tony Bosch and Alex Rodriguez did not respond to a phone message as well as an email from New Times seeking comment.
The goateed, muscular 48-year-old from Pinecrest provided the records to New Times on the basis of anonymity this past January but decided to reveal his identity now in the hope the real miscreants will be punished. He is the most important whistleblower in baseball history, a man who helped show that the steroid era is far from over and may well have ended A-Rod's career before a $275 million contract is even finished. Now he has no job and plenty of reasons to fear for his life.
"The people running Major League Baseball are the biggest scumbags on Earth as far as I'm concerned," Fischer says. "At this point, every bad guy out there knows exactly who I am. Why shouldn't everyone else know the story too?"
One of the most significant scandals in modern baseball history began with an argument over $4,000. That unpaid debt, combined with Porter Fischer's short fuse, ignited a firestorm that likely won't be finished for years.
Fischer was born in 1964 and grew up in a small Coral Gables house with his mom, Ann Marie Porter, a member of a storied South Florida family. Her great-grandfather, Dr. Joseph Yates Porter, is among Florida's most famous medical professionals. Yates' research around the turn of the 20th Century helped prove yellow fever was transmitted by mosquitoes, and eradication efforts that followed the discovery saved thousands of people from the scourge. His former home, a three-story mansion with Southern porches on Caroline Street in Key West, is now a historical site.
Ann Marie, the daughter of Joseph Yates Porter III and his first wife, Edna, was raised in Boston. She later moved south to attend the University of Miami, where she met a strapping ROTC officer and helicopter pilot named Gary Fischer.