Skip to comments.Major-league overreaction (MAJOR LEAGUE BARF ALERT)
Posted on 02/23/2003 10:57:15 AM PST by Chi-townChief
Which Hall of Fame baseball hero cooperated with a best-selling biography only because the author promised to keep it secret that he is gay? The author kept her word, but big mouths at the publishing house can't keep from flapping.''
The above gossip appeared Dec. 19 in the New York Post.
Yeah, I missed it, too. But Sandy Koufax caught it and thought the item was referring to him. His biographer, Jane Leavy, also saw it and thought the item was referring to Koufax and her.
On Friday, the Post said it was sorry.
''The author has denied making any deals with Koufax and called our item 'erroneous,''' the Post said in a statement. ''We apologize to both Koufax and Leavy for getting it wrong.''
This wasn't a publicity stunt designed to sell books. Koufax was so upset about the Post item that he cut his ties with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He hasn't been to Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Fla., for spring training and isn't planning on attending any Dodgers games in Los Angeles this summer.
What did the Dodgers have to do with the gossip item? Nothing. But the corporation that owns the Dodgers, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., also owns the Post. Koufax's friend, Dodgers senior vice president Derrick Hall, told the Los Angeles Times that Koufax said he ''feels foolish to be associated with or promote one [Murdoch-owned] entity if it helps another.''
Now that the Post has apologized, the Dodgers hope Koufax will return.
They hadn't heard from him as of Friday evening, but there's still time for a happy ending.
There's no taking back the gay rumor, though. Every time a gay rumor about an athlete appears in a newspaper, we are reminded about how uncomfortable the issue makes people in the sports world. Just last summer, we were wondering whether an openly gay baseball player would be accepted by the baseball world. The answer remains a resounding no.
I'm trying to sympathize with Koufax. How must he have felt to read an item like the one the Post wrote? He is 67 years old and of a different era. And it's not as though younger athletes have been adept at taking such gossip in stride. But I believe Koufax overreacted.
Before Friday, when news of this story broke in the Los Angeles Times, I would have summed up Koufax in four words: great pitcher, private guy. Today, I need six: great pitcher, private guy, very sensitive. He had been part of the Dodgers for nearly five decades. His decision to sever his association with the team over an item in a gossip column was needlessly harsh.
Leavy, Koufax's biographer, told the Times that Koufax is ''as principled a human being'' as she ever has met, and I guess his decision to boycott the Dodgers proved that.
But toward what end? I don't think it was to extract an apology from the Post; I think it was because the gay innuendo upset him.
Apparently, it upset a lot of people. Leavy told the Times the Post item was ''blatantly unfair, scandalous and contemptible.''
The Dodgers' Hall said the organization supported and understood Koufax's position.
''It's terrible because he's an important part of this organization and its rich history,'' Hall said. ''Most important, Sandy has a lot of friends who are hurt by this.''
I wonder whether gay people get hurt when someone writes a blind item implying they're straight.
The point is that gay rumors will continue to be a touchy subject for as long as people continue to take offense to them.
At this stage in his life, with all that he has accomplished, it would be nice if Koufax had been able to shrug off the gossip. But I suppose that's hard to do when you feel you have been insulted.
Not that there's anything wrong with that...
I had that once. Hurt like a bitch.