MILWAUKEE -- Before the Brewers opened a pivotal series against the division rival Cubs on Monday night, Miller Park played host to an even more important event. Pitcher Jeff Suppan, Milwaukee's athletic training staff and even Commissioner Bud Selig were in attendance as the Brewers hosted a PLAY Campaign event for local children of area Boys & Girls Clubs. PLAY -- which stands for Promoting a Lifetime of Activity for Youth -- is a public awareness initiative of the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society (PBATS) in cooperation with other organizations aimed at educating kids on how to live a healthy and active lifestyle.
After a day of events to inform kids about healthy choices, Selig addressed the crowd. "I always say that, in baseball, we have a great responsibility," Selig said. "I call it a social responsibility, but, really, it is just to do the right thing." The PLAY campaign was started in 2004 and has conducted 35 events at 20 different Major League ballparks since then, educating thousands of youths about issues such as obesity and the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs. In his address, Selig focused on the latter of those topics and urged the children to make good decisions. "You want to play as good as you possibly can, you want to do and learn everything that you possibly can," Selig said. "But you want to do it in an honest and fair way." Brewers head athletic trainer Roger Caplinger and his staff, as well as Suppan, took the kids through stations focused on nutrition, exercise and injury prevention and were joined in their efforts by Don Hooton, who informed the kids about the perils of steroids. Hooton knows the ill effects of steroid use very well and was able to tell the cautionary tale he lived through as the father of an athlete who abused performance-enhancing drugs. His son, Taylor, used anabolic steroids to get bigger and stronger for his senior season of high school baseball, but the drugs had terrible side effects. Taylor descended into a deep depression and took his own life in the summer of 2003. In his memory, Don created the Taylor Hooton Foundation. The foundation is dedicated to eradicating the use of performance-enhancing drugs and their effects on America's high school students. "Remember that whenever one cheats, and whenever one does what these people are here to tell you about, they're hurting their own health," Selig said. "Don't ever let anybody tell you differently. You're hurting your health badly. "You're hurting [your health] physically and you're hurting it mentally. There are no shortcuts to success; the only thing you can do is work as hard as you can." Selig's final message drove the point home and echoed the elder Hooton's warnings about the risks that come with the abuse of performance-enhancing drugs. "Whether you become an athlete or not is unimportant," Selig said. "What is important is that you've done it the right way and learned to do it the right way. People who cheat, lie or do things dishonestly generally pay a terrible price for what they did."
Dave Fultz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.