PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Mets pitcher Dillon Gee didn't know much about the Taylor Hooton Foundation when he was approached by a team official and asked if he wanted to do some work for the anti-steroid organization.
So Gee did some research and saw a lot of articles about Alex Rodriguez. It jogged Gee's memory that A-Rod vowed to support the Hooton Foundation after he admitted to past steroid use in 2009. And also that the foundation had to distance itself from Rodriguez after he was suspended for this season for his role in the Biogenesis scandal.
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"Once I researched it," Gee said Sunday, "I saw the whole Alex Rodriguez deal. That's obviously not good for them."
But the Hooton Foundation is much more than just its past A-Rod affiliation. The charity, which is dedicated to educating young people about the dangers of performance-enhancing drug use, last week announced the formation of its first "advisory board" consisting of seven major-league players. Gee is one of them.
"I think they stand for a good cause," he said. "All these young kids these days think they need to do stuff like that to make it to the big leagues because they see a bunch of big-leaguers doing it -- or used to. It's not the case.
"There's a lot of us in here that made it on what we have. I just want to be a part of it and help get the word out about how to do things safely and not cheat with steroids and stuff like that. That helps clean the game up in the future. We're doing a good job of cleaning it up now, but if we can ingrain in these young kids' minds that it's bad stuff, then hopefully by the time they get here it'll be a purely clean game."
Gee, who went 12-11 with a 3.62 ERA last season, is not the biggest name on the board -- and he knows it.
He is joined by reigning Cy Young Award winners Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers and Max Scherzer of the Tigers, plus Jay Bruce (Reds), David DeJesus (Rays), C.J. Wilson (Angels) and Brad Ziegler (Diamondbacks).
"I'm sure they're going to want Clayton to go to things first before they ask me," Gee said. "But just to be a part of it is an honor. I agree with what they stand for."
The foundation was established by Don Hooton in 2004 after the suicide of his 17-year-old son Taylor, which Hooton believes was linked to steroid use.
Gee said after he agreed to join the advisory board he was contacted by Don Hooton Jr., who like Gee used to play for the University of Texas at Arlington.
They also have charity work in common. Gee was honored twice this past offseason for his various good works. He received the Joan Payson Humanitarian award from the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America in January and a Thurman Munson award just before reporting to spring training.
Gee said if he is asked to speak to kids about the dangers of steroid use, he wouldn't hesitate to relate his own experiences of not giving in to that temptation.
"I think there's a point in everybody's career where they see guys around and maybe they're cheating or something like that," Gee said. "You think, 'These guys are going to be way before me. I'm going to fall behind.' But it comes down to a moral decision at that point. I think I would just tell them being where I am now, it's more gratifying knowing I got here on my own, rather than using some foreign substance to get here."