A Whole New Ballgame

Posted July 16, 2003 at 6:43pm

This being the week of Major League Baseball’s annual All-Star game, it seemed like the appropriate time to write about a relatively new group opposed to abortion rights that’s headed by current and former ballplayers.

Battin’ 1000 is one of several organizations under the umbrella of the American Life League, a Stafford, Va.-based Catholic operation that runs educational programs to fight legalized abortion. Its goal is to raise money for an anti-abortion education campus that the American Life League is building in Stafford.

The American Life League turned to Sal Bando, a former All-Star third baseman with the Oakland A’s and Milwaukee Brewers who has long been active in the anti-abortion movement, to serve as chairman of Battin’ 1000.

“Sal Bando just jumped at the chance to get involved,” said Jim Sedlak, the league’s vice president. “And having Sal Bando involved has attracted to the project a lot of really good people.”

Half a year after its founding, Battin’ 1000 now boasts 90 current or former players, managers and executives who are involved, from Kyle Abbott to Geoff Zahn. The list includes Hall of Famers from all aspects of the game, such as manager Sparky Anderson, broadcaster Ernie Harwell, and players Gary Carter, Robin Yount and a southpaw known around here as Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.).

Some players are more involved than others. Minimum participation for the players includes lending their name to the cause and donating signed memorabilia, which is being sold. Battin’ 1000 has set up 30 “teams” to correspond with each major league city, and donors can contribute to the “team” of their choice. Depending on how much the donors give, they are then placed in such categories as player, all-star, fan club and so on.

And yes, there is a pennant race, with the top city from each league participating in a post-season championship. So far, Detroit, whose woeful Tigers are in last place in the American League Central Division, is winning in contributions.

“People like the idea that Detroit is in first place, because Detroit isn’t doing too well in the regular season,” Sedlak said.

The American Life League isn’t the only organization in the abortion rights debate that uses athletes. On the other side, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America — which the American Life League targets in one of its numerous campaigns — has athletes on its Board of Advocates, according to spokeswoman Nasserie Carew. The list includes tennis greats Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova, and track star Al Joyner.

The National Women’s Law Center, which has abortion rights among the many items on its agenda, has also attracted several athletes to its causes — primarily in support of

Title IX, the equal-funding measure for scholastic athletics. Former Olympic swimmer Donna de Varona was, until recently, on the organization’s board of directors.

Back to School for Rove. The College Republican National Committee, the organization that brought Karl Rove, Ralph Reed, Jack Abramoff and other GOP consulting gurus to prominence, is holding its biennial convention July 25-27 at the Capital Hilton.

Rove, who parlayed his two terms as national chairman of the College Republicans into a successful consulting business, is scheduled to receive the Lee Atwater Award for Service at the organization’s gala dinner that Friday night. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (Texas), Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Fla.), and former Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.) are also scheduled to speak.

The College Republicans will also conduct official business, electing its new executive board. Eric Hoplin, the highly regarded current executive director and a veteran of Minnesota politics, is the only announced candidate for national chairman and is the overwhelming favorite.

“He will definitely be somebody some day,” said David Joyslin, a spokesman for the organization.

These have been boom times for the College Republicans. The group has tripled its ranks during the past three years and now has more than 100,000 members at 1,148 chapters across the country.

“A lot of it has to do with the leadership of President Bush,” Joyslin said. “President Bush is someone that college students can really rally around.”

From White House to New House. Jackie Arends, special assistant to President Bush and associate director of presidential personnel, is joining the Washington, D.C., office of Spencer Stuart, a global executive search firm. She will help the company’s industrial and nonprofit clients determine their senior management and personnel needs.

At the White House, Arends was an adviser on all personnel appointments in national security offices, and was liaison between the White House and the Pentagon on high-level appointments. She also worked for the Office of White House Personnel under then-President George H.W. Bush.

Spencer Stuart, which opened its first Washington office earlier this year, has just moved. Its new location is at 1440 New York Ave. NW.

Another Rural Forum Possible. After a candidate forum on rural issues drew some of the Democratic White House field to Lake Placid, N.Y., earlier this year, RFD-TV, a 24-hour cable TV network dedicated to serving rural America and agriculture, is proposing another.

The network has invited the presidential contenders to participate in a televised forum on rural issues on Aug. 10 in Des Moines, Iowa. The forum would coincide with the following day’s opening of the Iowa State Fair — where, it’s fair to assume, many of the candidates will want to be.

Attention, Political Junkies. If you’re desperate to pore through the latest quarterly campaign finance reports, the Federal Election Commission is happy to oblige. FEC headquarters at 999 E St. NW will be open until 7 p.m. today and Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.