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BUENA PARK : Dodgers’ Butler Puts Tag on Drug Use

Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Brett Butler scored big Tuesday at Raymond Temple School as he urged students not to strike out with drugs.

“You have a choice,” Butler told the fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders, some wearing “Just Say No” or “Gangs + Dope = No Hope” T-shirts.

Butler, who was invited by the school’s Just Say No Club, told the students to believe in themselves and not to give in to peer pressure.

“If we do the right thing, we’re going to feel pretty good about ourselves,” he said.

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Butler told of people he knows who became involved with drugs and how it destroyed their lives.

“They made the wrong choice,” he said. “You guys are all examples--each of you is special. You can be positive examples.

“It starts with you. You can change the world, you can make a difference. That’s why I’m here.”

About 175 children assembled in the school’s multipurpose room for Butler’s visit. The students were in awe of the pro player, who also answered questions, most of which were about baseball.

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Students asked him about how he feels when he gets hit by a ball.

“I feel sore,” he said.

They also asked Butler, a father of four, if he lives in a house or a mansion, what kind of car he drives, and how much he gets paid.

Trying to downplay the materialism, he told them he lives in a house like they do, owns two cars (he drives a Lexus, his wife a Volvo station wagon), and that it’s not polite to ask people how much they earn.

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Student Nick Magallanes, 11, said Butler “sent out a good message to all the kids.”

“He told us to not even try to do drugs once because his friend died of drugs,” the sixth-grader said. “That’s pretty sad.”

Sixth-grader Efrain Ramirez, 11, said that hearing Butler’s talk has made the Dodgers his favorite team. He said he was impressed with Butler’s caring message.

“He told us that drugs can mess you up,” Efrain said, adding that he believes his classmates will listen to Butler “because he’s famous.”

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Butler said that because he is in the public eye, he wants to be a positive influence on youngsters.

“I think because of this plateau we’re put on, it’s our responsibility to be a role model,” he said. “It’s also my responsibility to exemplify my Christian values on and off the field and share those values in a positive manner.”

After Butler’s presentation, he sat on a bench outside and spent about half an hour autographing baseball cards for the children. Some also asked him to sign their gloves, baseballs or T-shirts.

“It’s cool to have an autograph by Brett Butler,” said Ryan Hart, 11, smiling as he held a card in his hand. “He’s my favorite bunter.”

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