Dale Petroskey, Former Reagan administration operative, and current President of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown has done it again. First, he shocked baseball fans worldwide by canceling a 15th Anniversary celebration of the movie, Bull Durham for fear that Susan Sarandon or Tim Robbins might say something. Now, he has invited former Atlanta Braves pitcher, John Rocker to speak at the hall.
For those who don't remember, In December of 1999, Sports Illustrated interviewed Rocker on his feelings toward, the New York Mets, and their fans. He used that interview to blast everything about New York in hateful language. His comments included, "Imagine having to take the [No.] 7 train to [Shea Stadium] looking like youíre [in] Beirut next to some kid with purple hair, next to some queer with AIDS, right next to some dude who got out of jail for the fourth time, right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. Itís depressing." He didn't stop there, but went on to rant, "The biggest thing I donít like about New York are the foreigners, You can walk an entire block in Times Square and not hear anybody speaking English. ... How the hell did they get in this country?Ē
We asked Petroskey why he would not allow Robbins and Sarandon even to appear at the hall, but was offering Rocker a podium and a microphone. He told us, " I have said all I am going to say about canceling the Bull Durham event. I am inviting John Rocker to speak because I think John Rocker is a fine example of what Baseball and America are all about. He is only a controversial figure because those liberal Hollywood types in the media took his comments out of context."
How such racist, xenophobic and homophobic comments could have any other meaning if presented in a different context is beyond us. Perhaps Dale Petroskey accepts "the cracker defense", the idea that a "down home country boy" from a rural background such as Macon Georgia, Rocker's home town, doesn't know any better than to say such things, and should be excused. Perhaps, however Petroskey agrees with everything Rocker said. Will he soon be removing any displays from the hall that don't fit with his view of America, and the national pastime?