Former Major League Baseball homerun champion Hank Aaron says Major League Baseball needs to do more to rid the game of performance-enhancing drugs.
Speaking Wednesday at a benefit for his Chasing the Dream Foundation, the baseball icon noted the progress Commissioner Bud Selig has made towards that end with comprehensive testing programs, but said he would like to see stiffer penalties to those found cheating.
“I think, in some ways, the commissioner has cleaned up the act in some ways,” Aaron said. “I’m a little bit disturbed about some of the things that are happening now in baseball. I see a few players, even in the minor leagues, getting involved and some steroids. How are we going to fix this? What’s going to happen?
Most recently, NL batting leader and San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera and Oakland A’s pitcher Bartolo Colon were suspended 50 games each after testing positive for testosterone.
Aaron said he’d like to see a stiffer penalty still.
“I think it’s got to be a little bit more severe as far as penalties are concerned,” he said. “I think 50 games is not enough. I’d like to see 100 games really. I think the second time, they need to just ban the player from baseball.”
Aaron’s comments drew a standing ovation from the crowd.
Nicknamed “The Hammer,” Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s record for career homeruns on April 8, 1974 when he blasted No. 715 to lead his Atlanta Braves past the Los Angeles Dodgers.
He hit his 755th and final homerun a little more than two years later on July 20, 1976 as a Milwaukee Buck. Aaron remained baseball’s all-time homerun champion until Giants slugger Barry Bonds surpassed him in 2007.
Aaron, who was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, hit 24 or more homeruns every year and is the only player to have blasted at least 30 homers in a season on at least 15 occasions.
He made every All-Star team from 1955 to 1975 and remains the game’s all-time leader in RBIs (2,297), extra-base hits (1,477) and career total bases (6,856).