Team Imposes Alcohol Ban In Clubhouse

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 9, 2007

MILWAUKEE, May 8 -- The Washington Nationals announced Tuesday that they were banning alcohol from the home and visiting clubhouses at RFK Stadium, as well as from the team's clubhouse on the road, a move made in reaction to the death last month of St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock, who was killed in a car crash in which police said alcohol was a factor.

"I don't think it's a good place for us to be providing alcohol to people right before they get into cars and drive away," club president Stan Kasten said. "It is obviously people's right to drink, obviously people's right to buy whatever they want.

"We haven't had any incidents, and we think everyone will continue to act responsibly. Nevertheless, I didn't feel comfortable being the one providing the alcohol in those situations."

Roughly a dozen teams have either banned alcohol in their home clubhouse or are considering doing so. But several Nationals rolled their eyes at the new policy Tuesday, and a few declined to comment. Veteran reliever Ray King, however, said he thought it was an overreaction, pointing out that Hancock was reportedly drinking in a bar for several hours after a game April 28.

"They're making it a mockery to where you hate that the accident happened, but . . . that accident happened from him coming out of the clubhouse," King said. "It's a choice. Everybody has a choice in life of what you're going to do. It's unfortunate that happened, but it wasn't because he drunk in the clubhouse."

Kasten said he understood that reaction, but said, "We didn't feel like waiting for an incident to happen."

Manager Manny Acta said he "really could care less" about the policy. "I don't come to the ballpark to drink," he said.

The club kept its policy regarding team flights the same -- beer and wine will be allowed when the team travels between cities on the road, but not on flights back to Washington, after which players will presumably be driving home.

"I've never been in a clubhouse where I've seen a guy sit on the couch and empty a cooler of beer and then leave the clubhouse," King said. "I don't think it's a problem. But I guess it all boils down to, we work here and we got to do what our bosses say."

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