Hank Aaron wants to shine some more light on baseball’s steroid era. The former home run king favors releasing the full list of players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003.
In a wide-ranging interview Tuesday night with The Associated Press, the Hall of Famer said releasing the list would help Major League Baseball get past its drug stigma. The list was supposed to remain anonymous and is now under court seal, but big names have continued to leak out.
“I wish for once and forever that we could come out and say we have 100 and some names, name them all and get it over and let baseball go on,” Aaron said. “I don’t know how they keep leaking out. I just wish that they would name them all and get it over with.”
Aaron also wanted to make a few other things clear.
No, he has not spoken with commissioner Bud Selig about banned Pete Rose being reinstated in baseball. But he does think it’s time Rose, the career hits leader, be reinstated and voted into the Hall of Fame.
Rose agreed to a lifetime ban from baseball in 1989 after an investigation concluded he bet on the Cincinnati Reds to win while he was manager of the team.
“How long does a person have to die?” Aaron said. “I think the thing that bothers me is that he is missing out on a lot of things. He made a mistake. I don’t know what else can be done, or what else can be said. I just think at some point he needs to start enjoying being a Hall of Famer.”
Aaron spoke to the AP before a banquet for the 17th Annual RBI World Series. The program is designed to increase participation and interest in baseball for youths and minorities — one of the primary issues Aaron is working on.
With the number of blacks in the majors dwindling in the past few decades, Aaron said MLB — and everyone — could do more to curb the numbers.
“You always think that a program needs to do more, no question about it, if you have the funds,” Aaron said. “We all need to do more. I think we all need to do more to help.”
However, since steroids have come become one of baseball’s biggest problems, the thought that the game is still tainted doesn’t sit well with Aaron, who held the home run record with 755 until Barry Bonds broke it.
Neither does the fact that some of baseball’s biggest names — including a New York Times report last week that identified Boston slugger David Ortiz and former teammate Manny Ramirez — continue to pop up on what has simply become known as “the list.”
There were no penalties for a positive test in 2003 — the anonymous tests were conducted to determine if it was necessary to impose mandatory random drug testing across the major leagues in 2004. But federal agents seized the results as part of the BALCO investigation. The players’ union has argued the search was illegal, and the case is currently before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
At the event in Palm Beach Gardens on Tuesday night, Aaron said he often delivers a message to kids about getting involved in baseball but also about staying out of trouble. He thought the same message could apply to some major leaguers.
“I tell them you may not be able to hit 700 home runs, but you need to do the right things,” Aaron said. “There’s no shortcuts in life. Everything is going to catch up.”