The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum has made discouraging the use of performance-enhancing drugs the centerpiece of its latest educational initiative and took one of its members into the community Friday to help spread its message.
Longtime Chicago Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg started his day at Richfield Springs with a presentation to students in grades 7-12 about the Hall of Fame’s Be A Superior Example program. The 1984 National League most valuable player and 2005 Hall of Fame inductee encouraged the students pursue their goals but not to take shortcuts while doing so.
“There was a time when that was something to do,” said Sandberg whose playing career extended into Major League Baseball’s steroid era. “In today’s world, that is not the thing to do.”
The disenchantment of fans who have seen many of the game’s stars caught steroid-related scandals is something Sandberg understands. Growing up, Sandberg looked up to Pete Rose who has been banned from organized baseball and the Hall of Fame for betting on the game.
“My first spring training with the Phillies, 18 years old, I arrive at the sports complex and the bus drops me off,” he said. “I can still see the image of Pete Rose taking batting practice in the first cage. He was a perennial all-star at the time and working his way toward the hit record.”
The excitement grew when Sandberg discovered his locker was next to Rose’s for three weeks that spring. Rose eventually broke Ty Cobb’s career hit record but has never been placed on a Hall of Fame ballot because of his activities off the field.
“This is part of the message,” Sandberg said. “We’re trying to steer kids away from that. Don’t let that influence you away from the right way to do things. Don’t take shortcuts.”
B.A.S.E. is set up to promote diet and nutrition, exercise and fitness, and character and fair play. The Hall of Fame incorporates lessons from its members — online as well as in person — to supplement a classroom educational model. At the end of each lesson, participants — adults and students alike — are asked to take a pledge to live healthy and free of performance-enhancing substances. A national registry housed in Cooperstown maintains the names of all those who make the pledge.
Already an accomplished player at the major league level, Sandberg is working toward the goal of managing at the major league level. After six seasons as a minor league skipper he was promoted last week to serve at the Philadelphia Phillies third base coach.
“Six years in the minor leagues? That was nothing,” Sandberg said. “And people thought that was the long way.”
Returning to the major leagues moves Sandberg closer to his ultimate baseball goal.
Page 2 of 2 - “At 18, 19, 20 years old, I dreamt of being a major leaguer for one game, even being a part time player,” he said. “Once I achieved that, it was time to raise my goals.”
just what goal remains?
“Coming up short of the World Series,” he said. “That is still a goal of mine in this new capacity.
“I think if I won one World Series I’d raise my goals and want to win two or three.”