Cardinals ban alcohol in clubhouse

Cardinals ban alcohol in clubhouse

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals announced on Friday that they are banning alcohol from the home clubhouse at Busch Stadium, as well as pondering other adjustments to their alcohol policies.

In light of the death of pitcher Josh Hancock, who lost his life in a wreck early Sunday morning, club officials said they are re-examining many of the ways they do business. The first step, however, was a quick and simple one, to end the policy of providing and allowing alcohol to players after games.

Hancock was determined to have been driving while under the influence at the time of his crash.

"I think it's a smart gesture, it's an important gesture, but it's not meaningful," manager Tony La Russa said. "Because guys just don't stay around the clubhouse anymore."

Another step that may be in the offing is the elimination or restriction of alcohol on the team's charter flights.

"We're talking about what we'll do when we travel," La Russa said. "We'll see."

La Russa, along with principal owner Bill DeWitt Jr., team president Mark Lamping and general manager Walt Jocketty, answered questions from reporters on Friday afternoon after the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department released the results of its investigation into the fatal crash.

"Basically, we'll examine everything in our procedures," Jocketty said. "We feel we've done a pretty good job in the past with our policies and the way we've conducted business, but we certainly could improve."

Beer in the clubhouse is a long-standing baseball tradition, though some clubs have begun to move to end the practice. La Russa and Jocketty both noted that players spend much less time in the clubhouse after games than in past years.

Jim Edmonds, the dean of Cardinals players and one of the leaders on the roster, took issue with the idea that drinking is a baseball-specific problem, or any more endemic in the game than in other walks of life.

"I don't think it's fair to point fingers at baseball in general," Edmonds said. "I don't think we're the only workplace where people drink afterwards. I've heard reports of banning alcohol in baseball. He wasn't here drinking before he got in his accident. I just don't see where the two add up together. I don't think his accident was caused by us having a drink in the clubhouse."

Prior to the accident, Hancock had been at Mike Shannon's Steaks and Seafood restaurant in downtown St. Louis until approximately midnight CT, police said.

So the move Friday is more a symbolic gesture than anything else. Team representatives acknowledge that the greater issue is the choices players make after they leave the ballpark.

"The thing that we do and will continue to do is to educate players," Jocketty said. "We do that starting in the Minor Leagues. [We have] education on how to conduct themselves, and the [Employee Assistance Program] that's available to them.

"We do a number of things as an organization, and I think it's also the responsibility of the players to police themselves, and in this case, they've got to make better decisions."

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.