To all my friends and fans that have followed my blog over these past months, I am humbled and grateful. I have taken some time off from writing to clear my head, and to get ready for my upcoming lecture tour. I knew that for me to be successful on this tour, I needed to be rested and focused.
Well, the vacation is over, and I didn’t need much to get my focus back. You see, my friend Pete, who writes his blog at widerights.com, sent me a text this past Sunday. Usually, I receive emails or posts from him on my facebook page, so I knew that this was important. He wanted me to read a story about the Edmonton Capitols, a baseball team in the Golden Baseball League. They are an independent professional baseball league, and although not affiliated with MLB or any of their farm systems, they have had plenty of former major leaguers among their rosters. The story is not about the Capitols, but about their manager Brent Bowers, who was ejected from a game played on July 31st, in Orange County, California. Bowers, who played for the Baltimore Orioles in ’96, was ejected for comments he made to umpire Billy Van Raaphorst. You see, Van Raaphorst is openly gay. So I guess you can imagine why he was ejected but I prefer to not have you guess, and just read what Bowers had to say: “You know what I heard. I heard you are a f***ing faggot. The rumor from several managers and people around the league is that you are a fag. I ought to kick your ass, you faggot.” The league responded to this blatant form of homophobia by suspending Bowers for ONLY 2 games. A slap on the wrist for Bowers and a slap in the face for Van Raaphorst.
What happened next, in my opinion, is where the story really lies. The homophobic remarks by Bowers were a disgrace and should have been dealt with in a strong manner to send a very clear message. However, the message that was sent with this 2 day suspension was that homophobia was ok. Seeing this (and this is the story) Van Raaphorst’s fellow umpires banned together and refused to work any more games until a more severe punishment was issued. These umpires stood strong, and the league finally suspended Bowers for the remainder of the season and issued a $5000.00 fine. Bowers has since resigned his post, and his homophobia has gone with him.
The true story in all this is that if we as a society stand together, we can accomplish anything. It took pride in himself for Billy Van Raaphorst to be openly gay as an umpire, and it took pride in his fellow umpires to stand up against homophobia, bigotry and hate. Let us remember the words of Robert Kennedy, when in South Africa fighting against Apartheid he said:
“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope… and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
We are those ripples, and together we can build a current that will sweep down the mightiest wall of oppression and resistance.
Yes, my vacation is over, and I am now focused!!
Thanks for reading, and remember,
Never Strike Out!