Aaron Blasts Rocker

John A. Quayle blueoval at SGI.NET
Mon Dec 27 03:20:23 MST 1999


Aaron Hammers Rocker for
 Comments in Magazine
 December 23, 1999 2:28 pm EST

 CHICAGO (Reuters) - Hank Aaron thought the racism and discrimination he
endured during his career was a thing of the past, but baseball's all-time
home run king said he felt "sick" after reading comments from Atlanta
pitcher John Rocker.

 "I played for 23 years and had everything under the sun happen to me, like
most black players," Aaron said Thursday on the Jay Mariotti Show on
One-on-One Sports Radio. "But never has anything happened to me that made
me feel like I did reading that in Sports Illustrated.

[NB: Jay Mariotti and I were teammates in P-O-N-Y League in 1972! - JAQ]

 "When I first read that, I was sick, absolutely sick. I thought we had
passed the stage where things like that were no longer tolerated."

 Aaron, a senior vice president in the Braves front office, was referring
to Rocker's comments in an article in this week's issue of the magazine.

 Rocker, Atlanta's ace reliever, verbally sparred with Mets fans two months
ago during the National League Championship Series, making him the target
of derisive chants from fans in games played at Shea Stadium.

 In the magazine story, Rocker was quoted in a searing assault on New York
City and its diversity in a rambling discourse that ignited a public furor
and prompted a sharp rebuke from Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

 "Imagine having to take the (No.) 7 train to the ballpark, looking like
you're (riding through) Beirut next to some kid with purple hair, next to
some queer with AIDS, right next to some dude who just got out of jail for
the fourth time, next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids," the magazine
quoted Rocker as saying.

 "The biggest thing I don't like about New York are the foreigners," he
reportedly said. "I'm not a very big fan of foreigners. You can walk an
entire block in Times Square and not hear anybody speaking English. Asians
and Koreans and Vietnamese and Indians and Russians and Spanish people and
everything up there. How the hell did they get into this country?"

 Rocker, who also referred to an unidentified black teammate as "a fat
monkey", has apologized, saying he went too far.

 Although employed by the Braves, Aaron has had little interaction with
Rocker and even less insight into the mind of the man at the center of the
controversy.

 "I've never held a conversation with him that long," Aaron said. "I don't
know him and I don't think I missed anything."

 Aaron said fans need to realize that Rocker is not speaking on behalf of
the Braves.

 "To be honest with you, I was very sick and disgusted with the whole
situation. For someone in the situation of Mr. Rocker to make those
statements is ridiculous. I have no place in my heart for that."

 Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said Major League Baseball is reviewing
the 25-year-old Rocker's statements and threatened "appropriate action."

 Teammates Brian Jordan and Tom Glavine criticized Rocker for his remarks
and Atlanta pitching coach Leo Mazzone advocated trading him.

 The Braves released a statement from Rocker in which he did not deny
making the comments, but said they "were not offered in the spirit they
appeared in the article."

 Rocker, a native of Macon, Ga., was 4-5 with a 2.49 ERA and 38 saves last
season.



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