GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - The young players on the diamonds at Calvin College Monday know the stars of the game, like the New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez. Unfortunately, they know him for more than just his stats.
"He's a Yankee third baseman who just got suspended," said James Jastifer, a participant in former major leaguer Brent Gates' annual baseball camp for players ages 6 to 14.
"For a lot of games," his friend Sam Patton added.
On the day when suspensions against A-Rod, the Detroit Tigers' Jhonny Peralta and other major leaguers for performance-enhancing drug use were the talk of the sports world, Gates' annual camp was well underway.
Gates spent seven seasons in the majors, roaming the infield for Oakland, Seattle and Minnesota.
"When I was playing, it really wasn't in there. Maybe towards the end of may career, you started seeing some of the guys coming in and some guys coming in to camp a little bigger, a little stronger then the previous years," Gates recalled. "I think as I got out is when it really started to boom."
While the suspension made headlines, Gates said the news is only a minor distraction for the kids.
"They do know about it. But I think at the end of the day they're still young. They still just want to play baseball and enjoy the game," he said.
But what happens when these kids get into the more competitive arena of high school sports?
Most athletic directors at several West Michigan high schools said they do not test for performance-enhancing drugs.
The Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) says the cost and the frequencies of false positives cause most districts to shy away.
But many districts do talk about the issue.
In Greenville, for example, they don't test for drugs, but they do talk to students about the danger of drug use including PEDs and stress the importance of healthy choices and competition with character.
"Winning, when it occurs, is a fortunate by-product, but not our top priority in youth athletics," Greenville Superintendent Peter Haines said.
Gates, meanwhile, continues stressing the fundamentals.
He says despite the distraction, the suspensions may be good for the game of baseball.
"Baseball's such a sacred game as far as numbers and Hall of Fame. And you see some of these great players that aren't probably going to be a part of the Hall of Fame, it's sort of a shame," Gates said. "I think what baseball's doing is great. And I think you have to clean the game up and I think they're going about it the right way."
Gates' annual baseball camp
A memorial marker was unveiled for three young siblings who died in an apartment fire 10 months ago.
Battle Creek Police are investigating a fight caught on camera inside a middle school locker room.
A special surprise in Kalamazoo as a famous native, and New York City sports star, handed out gifts to hundreds of local kids Thursday night.