FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling yesterday became the first major league player to agree to testify before Congress about steroid use in baseball.
''I'm a citizen of the United States of America," said Schilling, who was served a subpoena yesterday at City of Palms Park requiring him to appear before a congressional committee Thursday. ''If I'm required by law to attend a hearing in front of Congress, I will be there."
Schilling, 38, has never been linked to steroid use but was one of seven current or former major league players and four baseball executives subpoenaed by the House Government Reform Committee.
Schilling's attorney, Philadelphia-based Ed Hayes, said the pitcher will not testify about other players.
''Curt will not and cannot get into issues about anyone else, ruining anyone else's reputation by speculating," Hayes said. "I'm somewhat concerned and suspicious if there'll be an effort made for players to point the finger." The committee wants Schilling in Washington Thursday because of his stance regarding steroids in baseball, his status in the game, and his alignment with high-ranking politicians, among them President Bush and Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.).
"I will have a lawyer with me to make sure I don't do anything potentially stupid, which is a likely possibility," said Schilling. "I've seen enough C-SPAN. I don't imagine I'll plead the Fifth [Amendment] because I don't really have anything on the subject beyond an opinion, which has always been what I've shared when asked."
Schilling has said he is in favor of eliminating steroids from the game, but has been outspoken in his concern over Major League Baseball's ability to properly handle the testing. When first informed of the hearing at the beginning of the month, Schilling said he was afraid of a "witchhunt" going after big names.
"The reason he has been invited down there, according to the congressional letter, is because he has been a vocal individual in respect to testing," said Hayes. "Congress has indicated publicly that the purpose of the hearing is to talk about the adequacy of the existing [testing] plan recently agreed to by baseball and the union, and talk about the implication of steroid use on the youth of America."
Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, the Yankees' Jason Giambi, the Orioles' Rafael Palmeiro and Sammy Sosa, and Frank Thomas of the White Sox also received subpoenas. No one else has publicly agreed to testify, though Canseco has said he would attend if granted immunity.
Canseco detailed personal steroid use in his recently released book, "Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big." In the book, Canseco accuses McGwire, Palmeiro, and Sosa of steroid use. Giambi testified to a grand jury that he used steroids, according to testimony reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.
Thomas has not been linked to banned performance-enhancing drugs.
"I'm still real confused as to why I've been put in this group and why there are other players that aren't in this group," Schilling said. "I think the people they're calling should have reasons for being there. I think most of them, other than Frank and I, do. There are people that aren't there that belong there."
Schilling did not name names, but the obvious omission is Barry Bonds, who is chasing Hank Aaron's all-time home run record and has acknowledged unwittingly using a steroid cream.
MLB has vowed to fight the subpoenas, which were also issued to Donald Fehr, executive director of the Players Association; Robert Manfred, MLB executive vice president and labor counsel; Sandy Alderson, MLB executive vice president of baseball operations; and Kevin Towers, general manager of the San Diego Padres.
Stanley Brand, legal counsel for MLB, called the subpoenas "an absolutely excessive and unprecedented misuse of congressional power."
Schilling boldly detached himself from both MLB and the union yesterday.
"I'm gonna guess in a court of law the Congress has precedence over Major League Baseball," Schilling said. "I'm going to do what they tell me to do. I'm guessing baseball wouldn't stand in the way of getting its players in trouble [by facing a contempt charge for not appearing]. The Players Association, I'm sure there'll be discussions about what and how we're going to [testify]. But any decision I make will be made on my own, by me, and by my attorney.
"I understand the players' union works for me and wants to represent the body as a whole. That doesn't necessarily mean they speak for me when they issue public statements."