Suspended Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun is personally calling fans and offering an apology for using performance-enhancing drugs.
Wes Aldridge, 58, of Muskego got a call at his office, a phone number he had provided to the Brewers as a season ticket holder. Aldridge was skeptical when the caller said he was Ryan Braun.
"I looked around at the other phones in the office to see who was messing with me," he said Friday.
Aldridge said he didn’t waste any time getting to the question on the mind of many Brewers’ fans. Why would he take a banned substance?
"The only thing he said was he had a friend that gave him the item and he didn’t think it would do any harm at that time," Aldridge said.
On July 22, Braun agreed to a 65-game suspension resulting from Major League Baseball’s investigation of the now-closed Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic, which was accused of providing banned substances to players. Braun admitted he took a cream and a lozenge containing banned substances while rehabilitating an injury during his 2011 National League MVP season.
The calls started Thursday.
"It was his idea," said Rick Schlesinger, the Brewers’ chief operating officer. "He came to us and said he wanted to call fans," including season ticket holders, partial season ticket holders and individual buyers.
The Brewers turned over a list of several dozen random names, Schlesinger said.
"He said he wanted to call everybody on the list," Schlesinger added.
After Braun started making calls, the Brewers began to hear from some of the fans he called, according to Tyler Barnes, the Brewers vice president of communications.
"They were appreciative of the outreach. The vast majority were appreciative of it. We think it’s a nice gesture on Ryan’s part. We realize some are going to be grateful and others are going to be a little more hesitant," Barnes said.
Aldridge said he got the impression Braun felt bad about what had happened. He said Braun apologized and said he made a mistake. But, Aldridge said he will keep his Ryan Braun memorabilia packed up and out of the sight of his grandsons.
"I didn’t want them to think I was going to back someone who cheated the game," he said.
Schlesinger said he has talked to Braun about the calls, which he said were ongoing.
"He expects some fans will still be angry with him and tell him so on the phone. He wanted to hear the good, the bad and the ugly," Schlesinger said.