Anti-steroid group counted on A-Rod
Don Hooton doesn't want to use the word "deceived" when it comes to Alex Rodriguez, but it is true that Rodriguez was scheduled to make an anti-steroids speech for Hooton's organization this coming Sunday — or what is now known as six days after MLB suspended the third baseman 211 games for using performance-enhancing drugs.
"Sad and disappointed,” Hooton said.
In 2004, Hooton founded the Taylor Hooton Foundation, which is named after Hooton's son, a high school baseball player and admitted steroid user who killed himself in 2003. Hooton believes his son's suicide was the result of depression brought on by anabolic steroid use.
Hooton said he doesn't think steroids are perceived to be as dangerous as the actually are, and the purpose of his foundation is to educate the public, with a focus on kids and teenagers.
Hooton established a mutually beneficial relationship with Rodriguez in 2009, when the New York Yankees star admitted to using PEDs and promised to clean up.
Rodriguez got to associate himself with an anti-steroids group and Hooton got one of the most famous athletes in the world attracting cameras and tape recorders to his events.
There was a lot of potential to that partnership.
When I first talked to Hooton two weeks ago, he was still holding out hope that Rodriguez was clean and would be able to speak at Sunday's event. But, as he put it, "I'm not the village idiot."
Monday, The Taylor Hooton Foundation severed ties with Rodriguez and will replace him on Sunday with Andy Pettitte.
Rodriguez's name was scrubbed from a youth baseball field in Wisconsin, too. The field had been named after him in 2003.
"It is what it is," said Matt TenHaken, board president for USA Youth, which runs the facility. "I don't really know if it's disappointing. Just have to accept what's happened and move on."
I asked Hooton what he thought it meant that someone like Rodriguez, who made a big public admission and began spreading the anti-steroids gospel, would fall right back into it.
"It says these drugs work," he said.