TAMPA, Fla. -- Brett Gardner believes that his career path proves that young athletes can achieve their dreams without artificial assistance, which is part of the reason why the Yankees' outfielder is proud of his ongoing relationship with the Taylor Hooton Foundation.Gardner was recognized by the organization prior to Saturday's
TAMPA, Fla. -- Brett Gardner believes that his career path proves that young athletes can achieve their dreams without artificial assistance, which is part of the reason why the Yankees' outfielder is proud of his ongoing relationship with the Taylor Hooton Foundation.
Gardner was recognized by the organization prior to Saturday's 10-3 win over the Mets, as foundation president Donald Hooton, Jr. and Yankees strength and conditioning coach Matt Krause presented Gardner with a canvas print of his 2018 "It's All Me" public service advertisement.
"I think they do great work all across the country and in communities, trying to inform our youth of the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs," Gardner said. "I think it's important that we have an even playing field, and that our youth have positive role models to look up to. I take a lot of pride in playing the game the right way."
:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::
The Taylor Hooton Foundation is widely acknowledged as a leader in advocacy against performance-enhancing drug use. Since 2014, Gardner has been a charter member of its advisory board of active Major League players.
"We're so proud to have him as a role model for young people, to show them that they can make it to the pinnacle of their sport or whatever it is they want to do in life without the use of drugs," Hooton Jr. said. "There's no better guy in baseball to have talking to kids and showing them that they can do exactly what he did without the use of drugs."
The friends and family of Taylor Hooton formed the foundation in 2004 after his untimely death at age 17, following his use of anabolic steroids. To date, the foundation has spoken to and educated more than one million people.
Gardner said that he has been encouraged by Major League Baseball's response to performance-enhancing drug use, initiating more frequent testing and stronger penalties in recent years.
"I think the league has made some serious strides," Gardner said. "No matter how hard you try to increase the number of times we get tested, you're still going to have a few guys that try to beat the system. I think for the most part, our game is as clean now as it has been in a long time."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.