NEW YORK – The Baseball Hall of Fame is starting a drug education program for students and young adults — in the same year Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa will appear on ballot for the first time after careers tainted by steroid accusations.
While adding PEDs to RBIs and ERAs among its interests, the Hall emphasized Wednesday that its new initiative wasn't tied to the former stars up for election or the people who will choose them.
"It is not intended to cast a directive to voters about Hall of Fame worthy candidates," shrine president Jeff Idelson said.
Mark McGwire, 10th on the career home run list, has never come close to election after admitting he used steroids and human growth hormone. Neither has Rafael Palmeiro, who topped 500 homers and 3,000 hits but was suspended for a positive test for performance-enhancing drugs.
Bonds, a seven-time NL MVP, and Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, will appear on the ballot mailed to voters around Thanksgiving. So will Sosa, who hit 609 homers.
The Hall makes no attempt to influence members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America when they pick the players for Cooperstown.
"Hall of Fame voting has been a part of this nation's fabric since 1936, and has touted the virtues of character, sportsmanship and integrity, along with the contributions to the game, as integral qualifications for earning election," Idelson said.
Education is part of the mission for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, along with honoring the game's greats and displaying artifacts.
The Hall plans to promote a healthy lifestyle that is free of PEDs. The program will be called "Be A Superior Example," or "BASE" for short, and will work with the Taylor Hooton Foundation and the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society.
In the next 18 months, the Hall hopes to conduct a nationwide survey, hold a summit in Cooperstown on drugs and begin a national registry for people to pledge commitments to live free of PEDs.
"It is through the education programs that we are able to fulfill our mission of providing context to the issues that have faced our game, as a reflection of American history, throughout its history," Idelson said.
The program is a further way of teaching youth "about American culture, with topics ranging from history and character education to math and science, through the lens of baseball," he said.