A unique and groundbreaking fundraising effort by the American Life League is corralling the support of a host of current and former Major League Baseball players and officials in the cause of building a pro-life educational facility in Virginia.

Battin’ 1000, as the initiative is known, has the backing of about 90 players and officials, including such baseball luminaries as former commissioner Bowie Kuhn, Toronto Blue Jays World Series champion Joe Carter, Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter, managers Sparky Anderson and Tommy Lasorda, Hall of Famer Robin Yount and Toronto Blue Jay Mark Eichhorn.

Their aim is to raise an initial $1 million toward the cost of a pro-life educational facility in Stafford, Va. According to Battin’ 1000’s vice-president, Jim Sedlak, the project grew out of a desire to better inform people about the pro-life movement and the issues with which it deals.

“As we were discussing getting support among people like presidents of colleges, one of the people who signed on to support the effort was a former commissioner of Major League Baseball, Bowie Kuhn,” Sedlak told The Interim in a telephone interview. “We then went out and got in contact with Sal Bando, a former player for the Oakland Athletics and Milwaukee Brewers. He was also a general manager for the Brewers. Sal listened to what we had to say, got very excited about it and signed on as the chairman of Battin’ 1000. It was through Sal Bando that we contacted other players, both current and former, and wound up with the list of 90 or so players who now support Battin’ 1000.”

Sedlak added that a key component to getting so many stars on board was the fact that Battin’ 1000 is geared toward an educational, rather than political, goal. “We weren’t asking them to go out and help pass a certain piece of legislation. We said that we wanted to create a campus that will educate people on pro-life. They felt that this was something they could get behind. We’re not dictating a position. We believe the more people know, and the more they know the truth and the facts, the more pro-life they’ll be … We’re impressed every day by the names that are on that list.”

As one might expect, however, the effort has prompted a reaction from the pro-abortion side of the debate. Although pro-abortionists have been quick in the past to cultivate the support of Hollywood celebrities and music stars, they have not proved to be so positive when the shoe is on the other foot. Instead, they have directed angry phone calls and communications at supporters of the pro-life campus.

“Colangelo and his testosterone-charged ballplayers can do anything they want with their time and money, including this enterprise,” huffed Marge Mead, legislative coordinator for the Arizona chapter of the National Organization for Women. “Colangelo’s players, on the other hand, will never experience pregnancy, including an unintended pregnancy. Yet they will try to use what little moral authority their ball-playing fame has purchased to fundraise for an organization that seeks to dictate women’s reproductive choices.”

Sedlak and the players remain unfazed. Pro-abortionists “seem to have come unglued over any effort by pro-lifers to educate anybody on the issues,” said Sedlak. “The other side has seen this as an opportunity to yell and scream about how dare pro-lifers create an educational effort and how dare Jerry Colangelo support this. It’s phenomenal how outraged they are that someone might learn the truth.”

He noted that not one of the players and officials involved has asked to have his name removed from the list of supporters since the pro-abortion backlash started.

“Nobody is backing away from it. And, we have received in our office, over 1,400 supportive e-mails from people all over the world who are supporting the ball players. At one point, we called Mr. Colangelo’s office and asked what kind of response he was getting. The other side was asking people to call his office. He had gotten 131 telephone calls, and 97 of them were supportive. Only 34 were negative. The sense is that America and the world are pro-life and the other side is yelling and screaming into a vacuum.”

The Campus for Life will provide everything from courses for people who have joined local pro-life groups and want to learn about the issues, to courses on how to run a pro-life group and how to get media coverage. It will also provide college courses for college credit on subjects such as bio-ethical issues and stem cell research. Some courses will be taught in-person by experienced teachers in Stafford, while others will be taught via the internet and correspondence.

“We hope to have some fun with this while also raising money for life,” said Sedlak.