Hank Aaron discusses baseball during an interview in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., Aug. 4, 2009, before he spoke to the RBI World Series banquet.
(AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (CBS/AP) Hank Aaron is lending his clout to cleaning up 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 was the all-time home run champion for 33 years, until he was passed by suspected steroid user Barry Bonds in 2007, and the thought that the game is still tainted doesn't sit well with Aaron.
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."
Boston Red Sox David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez in better days.
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, into the San Francisco Bay-area lab at the center of a scandal involving the use of performance enhancing drugs by athletes. The players' union has argued the search was illegal, and the case is currently before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Aaron spoke to the AP before a banquet in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. 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.
He 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."