Alex Rodriguez Field at Appleton's Scheels USA Youth Sports Complex hosted the Babe Ruth Baseball 14-year-olds World Series in August, 2009.
Alex Rodriguez's fate will soon be known. According to multiple sources, including the Associated Press, the New York Yankees' multi-million dollar fraud will be suspended somewhere between two years to life for using performance enhancing drugs.
Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers was the first to accept his fate with a 65-game suspension a couple of weeks ago. Others are sure to follow in Major League Baseball's latest drug scandal. But now that it is Rodriguez's turn, it may be a good time to revisit a certain youth baseball field in Appleton that bears Rodriguez's name.
If the powers that be at Scheels USA Youth Sports Complex aren't working toward a name change, they should be.
Alex Rodriguez Field, named after Rodriguez in 2003 by the Fox Cities Sports Authority, is governed by USA Youth Sports Complex in Appleton and is managed by USA Youth, a nonprofit organization run by a 12-member board of directors, which represent the Appleton Soccer Club, Panther Baseball and Appleton Little League. Matt TenHaken, president of the board, was unavailable for comment.
The field's name has become a sensitive issue around these parts because those who chose to name the field did it with good intentions. By all accounts, when Rodriguez played here with the Appleton Foxes as an 18-year-old prodigy he was a model citizen. With his subsequent climb toward all-time greatness in the major leagues, the Fox Valley reveled in its connection to what was surely to be a hall of fame career.
The trouble is, Rodriguez changed, as many people do. And therein lies another problem. Maybe we should wait to name facilities after people until they have passed on.
And isn't it strange that a field in Appleton is named for a man who was born in New York, raised in the Dominican Republic and then Miami and played here for just a few short weeks?
Rodriguez was a first-round draft pick of the Seattle Mariners in the 1993 amateur draft and played in 65 games for the Foxes, hitting .319 with 14 homers and 55 RBI before being promoted to Double-A Jacksonville and later Triple-A Calgary. He made his Mariners debut on July 8, 1994, at Boston. He spent the next six seasons in Seattle before becoming a free agent.
From there, he signed a lucrative deal with the Texas Rangers in 2001 before being traded to the Yankees in 2004.
He has hit 647 career home runs but admitted he used steroids from 2001 to 2003 and now has been linked to the Biogenesis clinic in Miami.
Who knows if he has ever really been clean?
With all of these developments, do we want our children playing on a field named after a cheater? What message does that send our kids?
It's not a good one, that's for sure.
That's why it's time to change the name. And there's nothing wrong with doing that. The field has a special place here and should bear a name of someone or something we can all be proud of.
Surely, there are members of this community who deserve to be honored. If we want to honor someone who is still living, what about the Ericksons?
Bruce Erickson was an outstanding baseball coach and a good role model for many years. His son, Matt, went on to play for the Milwaukee Brewers and is now manager of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. Isn't that deserving enough?
There are other names as well. Appleton baseball has a rich history.
But Alex Rodriguez? That one surely doesn't fit. Never really did and certainly doesn't now.
Let's have a redo on this one and soon.
-Dan Kohn: 920-993-1000, ext. 305, or firstname.lastname@example.org; On Twitter @PCDanKohn