April 15, 2003
A National Baseball Hall of Fame Voter and Sportswriter Lectures the Hall's President on Our Sacred American Constitution
(Before reading this expose on the head of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, read http://www.buzzflash.com/analysis/03/04/12_baseball.html, http://www.buzzflash.com/analysis/03/04/13_baseball.html, and http://www.buzzflash.com/analysis/03/04/15_baseball.html)
A BUZZFLASH BREAKING NEWS ANALYSIS
A LETTER FROM A NATIONAL BASEBALL HALL OF FAME VOTER
Fifth in a Series on the Shameless Partisan Scandal at the National Baseball Hall of Fame
I sent this letter to Dale Petroskey, president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, regarding his decision to cancel the 15th anniversary celebration of "Bull Durham."
Stephen M. Repko
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I'm sure you don't remember meeting me, through Ernie Harwell, at a Tigers game a few years back. I have been a sports writer/columnist/editor in the Detroit area for nearly 30 years, a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America (Detroit chapter) since 1979 and a Hall of Fame voter since 1989.
My love of baseball was nurtured, in part, by two visits to Cooperstown when I was a very young boy. I distinctly remember one trip, when I was 9 years old and my parents -- now both deceased -- took me to Cooperstown. Not only did we make a full day of the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, but we went to Doubleday Field and I had a ball running around the bases and pretending I was Babe Ruth and doing all the things that baseball allowed a little boy's mind to imagine back in such a seemingly innocent time.
That was in the summer of 1961, now almost 42 years ago. Much has happened to all of us since then, but one goal I always had in mind was that some year I'd go back to Cooperstown. To make, as it were, a pilgrimage to baseball's Mecca. Finally I was planning to do it this summer. But, in the wake of your recent action, I'm not so sure I want to make the effort. It might be hypocritical of me to support, through admission fees and other money I'd spend in Cooperstown, an organization that on one hand purports to celebrate and honor America's pastime while on the other hand preemptively stifling the most basic of American rights.
I'm sure, given the other negative feedback you've received on the decision to cancel the Hall of Fame's "Bull Durham" celebration, that you don't need yet another free speech argument from me. I would remind you, however, that there was a reason free speech was the first right granted in the Bill of Rights.
You exposed your own hypocrisy when, in 2002, you welcomed Ari Fleischer to Cooperstown to, in your own words, "hear his perspective on life in the White House and the current political scene" and then, a little more than a year later, canceled the "Bull Durham" celebration because, again in your own words, "Given the track record of Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, and the timing – with our troops committed in Iraq – a strong possibility existed that they could have used The Hall of Fame as a backdrop for their views."
You can't have it both ways. You can't welcome one perspective and silence the "strong possibility" that others "could" speak a differing view.
Baseball has enough problems without the Hall of Fame sticking a political foot in its mouth. I wish you luck in undoing the damage, but I wonder if anything less than your resignation would be sufficient.
You dropped the ball on this one, Mr. Petroskey. And you should be ashamed.
Stephen M. Repko joined the BBWAA in 1979 while sports editor of The Ypsilanti Press. He has also been a freelance baseball writer for the AP and is currently a full-time sports copy editor for The Oakland Press, an 80,000 circulation daily north of Detroit.
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Also see the Following BuzzFlash and Other Web Articles About the Republican Scandal at the National Baseball Hall of Fame:
the 2000 Election, Republican Head of Baseball Hall of Fame Invited
GOP Operative to Speak on Upcoming Presidential Election. No Democrat
BuzzFlash Unearths National Baseball Hall Of Fame News Release Announcing
Ari Fleischer Lecture
the Baseball Hall of Fame
Cooperstown Muffs One
Reagan/Bush Surrogate at Hall of Fame Makes a Non-admittance of Mistake
Sort of PR Meaningless Acknowledgment
Robbins, Sarandon get Rose treatment from Hall of Fame
the lords of baseball care about Cooperstown and what it stands for,
they will demand Petroskey's resignation immediately"
National Baseball Hall of Fame Welcomes Ari Fleischer
otherwise noted, all original