On December 22, 1999 — In an interview in Sports Illustrated magazine, Atlanta Braves P John Rocker offends virtually every race and ethnic group in a hateful outburst. Community leaders, media, management, coaches and teammates alike call for action to be taken against the lefthander who had 38 saves for Atlanta this past Season.
n a story published in the December 27, 1999, issue of Sports Illustrated, Rocker made a number of allegations stemming from his experiences in New York City and answering a question about whether he would ever play for the New York Yankeesor the New York Mets.
I’d retire first. It’s the most hectic, nerve-wracking city. Imagine having to take the 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, right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. It’s depressing… The biggest thing I don’t like about New York are the 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 in this country?
During the interview, he also spoke of his opinion of the New York Metsand their fans:
Nowhere else in the country do people spit at you, throw bottles at you, throw quarters at you, throw batteries at you and say, “Hey, I did your mother last night—she’s a whore.” I talked about what degenerates they were and they proved me right.
The interview was conducted while driving to a speaking engagement in Atlanta. The reporter, Jeff Pearlman, wrote that during the interview session, Rocker spat on a Georgia State Route 400 toll machine and mocked Asian women. Also, Rocker referred to Curaçaoan teammate Randall Simon as a “fat monkey”.
Although Rocker later apologized after speaking with Braves legend and Hall of Famer Hank Aaron and former Atlanta mayor and congressman Andrew Young, he continued to make controversial remarks. For his comments, Commissioner Bud Selig suspended Rocker without pay for the remainder of spring training and the first 28 games of the 2000 season, which on appeal was reduced to 14 games (without a spring-training suspension).
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