August 13, 2005

Hall of Famer denies holding racist views on players: Hall of Famer Bob Feller said "I'm anything but a racist," in an interview with the Des Moines Register . Lets see what you think ..."A lot of these players coming from the Caribbean, they don't even know the rules." 'Well, they don't know the ground rules and they don't know some of the fundamentals, but they're learning them.' I've been hearing this guy all my life sounding off like he was THE best pitcher ever and everyone else is subservient to him. Great yes , best ever ? Debatable but unlikely .

posted by evil empire to baseball at 08:16 AM - 52 comments

I certainly can't determine whether Feller is a racist based on those comments. George Bell (a Dominican) used to say for years that Caribbean players don't bunt or take base on balls because it's not in their nature -- he says ballplayers down there don't bunt or walk their way off the island, they have to prove they can hit ---- their instinct is to always swing, and it's difficult to curb that instinct when they get to the minors and majors in N.America. Now, that's a comment more directed to baseball fundamentals than rules. But is it a racist comment? Hardly. It's purely an observation. Which is where Feller comes in. If he's going to claim that the islanders don't know the rules, then when he's called on the remark, it surely behooves him to provide at least one example, otherwise he's just whistling out of his arse, and people would be inclined to be skeptical of his motives for making such a claim. Wearing my rose-tinted glasses, I would say that until demonstrably proven otherwise, Bob Feller probably isn't a racist, but he should be smart enough to know that when he opens his mouth to reporters, he'd better put-up or shut-up.

posted by the red terror at 08:53 AM on August 13, 2005

Feller's an 86-year-old man. Giving him the 60 Minutes treatment and calling him a racist in a live interview was offensive.

posted by rcade at 08:57 AM on August 13, 2005

About ten (maybe 15?) years ago, I spent part of an afternoon walking around Christie Pits and Kensington Market in Toronto with Bob Feller (it was kind of by accident). I got not a whiff of racism or even apprehension about other cultures from him (and Kensington Market was full of Caribbean people even then). He was opinionated and had a million stories, and he may have changed since then, but I don't buy him being racist at all. For what that's worth.

posted by chicobangs at 09:07 AM on August 13, 2005

Actually the reason i posted this was the fact the interview seemed like they went after him on the heels of the Krueger incident . I don't like his arrogance but this interview is lame, an S.I. trait .

posted by evil empire at 09:13 AM on August 13, 2005

Bob Feller makes assholish proclamations whenever a mike is put in front of him, but I don't think racism is a common thread. I can't stand him because he's the President of the Baseball Players Were Better Back Then and seems incapabale of respecting modern players (a la Joe Morgan). However, if I'd made the majors at age 16 and been a deck gunner in WWII, I might have a different perspective on the world too.

posted by yerfatma at 09:29 AM on August 13, 2005

EE, this isn't an SI thing, it's a KFNS, a sports-talk radio station in St. Louis, and Des Moines Register issue. The mouth in question, KFNS host Mike Claiborne, is an assclown. I give you this horrible column as a bit of proof. I know you're in radio, Mike, but this is a web page, and people can actually see how poorly you spell and capitalize. You might want to clean that up. I'm from the St. Louis area originally, and I'm not a KFNS fan. The station employs some really great guys (Frank Cusumano comes to mind), but they also have continued to keep Kevin Slaten on the air. Not only is Slaten a really lousy version of Jim Rome, he's a convicted felon, a guy who is willing to run with rumors and a guy who also apparently tried to punch out a player while he was the PA announcer at a St. Louis Steamers game. Nice credibility, KFNS.

posted by wfrazerjr at 12:43 PM on August 13, 2005

I have heard Bob feller interviewed several times-- live. He can be a little outspoken but never would I consider him a racist. Why do some reporters feel that they have to "make" a story where there is none??

posted by daddisamm at 12:52 PM on August 13, 2005

I heard this interview as well and from everything I heard it just seems like he was trying to make a point that some people don't know or understand the english language. How many players actually know what this or that means? I also kind of noticed that the guy interviewing seemed to be a black guy. Now with this in mind, don't ratings play a big part in the success of radio and television? Sounded to me like while Feller was trying to get to making a point, this interviewer just jumped in looking for some trouble. If Feller is a racist, it didn't show in this interview. I agree with E.E that this whole thing seems a bit too quick off of the Krueger incident. When did it become wrongful to speak your mind? Remember when freedom of speech meant something?

posted by melcarek69 at 01:16 PM on August 13, 2005

melcarek69, two things: how does someone "sound" black? And no, I don't remember when freedom of speech "meant" anything more or less than it does right now. So put that empty rhetoric away. The problem here wasn't that Bob Feller spoke his mind. It's that this Claiborne clown decided to make a racism issue out of it where there wasn't one. From what wfrazerjr said, this station sounds like the kind of mickey-mouse bitchfest outfit that has turned me off of commercial sports radio, probably for good, and has spawned a generation of mouth-breathing homers who have problems having a reasonable discussion about these issues at all. (Not that I'm pointing fingers at anyone here.)

posted by chicobangs at 01:37 PM on August 13, 2005

If you call making trouble where there isn't any "rhetoric", then no I'm not going to. I live in a big city where I hear racist crap all day long where there is none to be found except in the empty heads of those who are dreaming it up. As far as the guy on the program sounding black, once again living in a big city and hearing hundreds of voices a day, you kind of get to know what's what. I'm no racist, you can't afford to be nor should anybody ever be, but this guy sounded like a guy who was "black" and looking to start a racist banter where there clearly was not one to be found. There is no place for racism now or ever in any fashion. Freedom of speech in this country is supposed to mean far more than any other country on the globe. At least in the way it was meant originally. It is our job ourselves to decide and realize what is in good taste. I am nobodys judge or jury and I expect it that same way from others.

posted by melcarek69 at 01:50 PM on August 13, 2005

Looking him up, Mike Claiborne is black. how does someone "sound" black? Your ear is color blind? I've had occasions where I've ventured a guess about someone's race based on how they sound, and what they say, on the radio.

posted by rcade at 01:58 PM on August 13, 2005

Fact is, I don't care what color he is. My worry is always the trouble that comes from any rebel-rouser who feels that starting trouble where it never existed. Whether white or black normally would be moot except in the case where a human being wants to start an uprising out of an incomplete statement such as Fellers. Maybe if big mouths like that would take the time to listen and keep their mouths shut for once in their lives, they'd get all the facts first. Most arguements begin because both parties are talking and neither side is listening to the other.

posted by melcarek69 at 02:10 PM on August 13, 2005

I call "Remember when free speech meant something?" rhetoric. Because it's an empty question, without factual basis or a possible correct answer. (And I've guessed ethnicity wrong from voice enough times to not assume anymore. Just because someone sounds like, oh, James Earl Jones or Steve Buscemi doesn't mean a whole lot to me anymore.) And whether Mike Claiborne is black or white isn't (I think) all that relevant to this discussion either, except insofar as it informs how he goes about pushing his agenda, which sounds like self-promotion, even if that's at the expense of the reputation of a grouchy old Hall of Fame pitcher who may not be all that great at explaining himself in a situation like this. This has absolutely nothing to do with Bob Feller or what he may or may not have said. It's all about this joker and his attempt to controversialize his way onto the national stage by breaking a tempest-in-a-teapot non-story. I don't care if that's how Jim Rome got his network show. That doesn't make it right.

posted by chicobangs at 02:41 PM on August 13, 2005

Alright Chico, I can agree with most of what you say except the very start. We obviously see different on that point and I will just go with the agree to disagree direction. There was a time when being in broadcasting or other media forms meant just reporting the news as it happens and not as they see it. Somewhere along the way, the media took a new direction and many people fall for it everyday. The Jim Rome thing is an excellent point. Fact is, no matter the race, if We can't get past things such as racism and media irresponsiblity, We will never see the differences take their proper place in the past where it should belongs as only a reminder.

posted by melcarek69 at 02:51 PM on August 13, 2005

...where it belongs as only a reminder

posted by melcarek69 at 02:53 PM on August 13, 2005

Incidentally, Jim Rome is pretty embarrassed by his conduct in that Jim Everett interview today, from an airing of his radio program I heard not long ago. He thinks it was bush league.

posted by rcade at 03:21 PM on August 13, 2005

Guess what, the reason feller acts like a know it all is simply b/c he WAS the best at his craft. If i were the best at anything i sure as hell would be telling people about it. That being said feller is not a racist, he just got cornered by a braindead radio shockjock who felt like trying to make something out of nothing. This world has become so politically correct that we cant ever tell the truth, or voice an unbiased opinion anymore.

posted by gregy606 at 04:07 PM on August 13, 2005

Without getting "labeled".

posted by volfire at 04:38 PM on August 13, 2005


posted by melcarek69 at 04:48 PM on August 13, 2005

Just another jughead tryin to make a comment racist. And ^5 gregy606, well put!

posted by Sasquatch12154 at 04:50 PM on August 13, 2005

Oh yeah, well put. Another "the world is going to hell in a clutch purse and it's all the fault of them PCs" assertion, just what we needed. Why, why, why, why, why do we have this persistent crap from you younguns about how it used to be better in the good ol' days back when everybody could speak their mind, anywhere, anyplace, and they'd build you a stage and a grandstand and assemble a crowd and applaud and hand out free lemonade too? The only person who gets the kind of adoring reception that you ignorami seem to believe is necessary for someone to be "speaking freely" is George W. Bush, and he gets it because he stacks his audience. You people with your fool talk about what the state of free speech now, and what the state of free speech was then, are flat-out wrong about both.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 05:09 PM on August 13, 2005

Jim Rome can afford to be embarrassed by his career-making stunt now. He's already benefited from it. By comparison, I'm sure Al Sharpton regrets the whole Tawana Brawley episode too, but that doesn't mean his career wasn't made on the back of it. And that doesn't make it right. Same with this guy. He's angling for an hour slot on Fox Sports Net, and that's all he's thinking about. The legacy of an accomplished Hall of Famer is merely something he's chewing up and spitting out on the way. It's of no concern to him.

posted by chicobangs at 05:36 PM on August 13, 2005

Not a youngin there mr. lil brown bat! "Back in the day" you could say what you wanted to without some group pickin it apart and tryin to read something into it. Also...lmfao at Geprge Bush, speaking of clowns.

posted by Sasquatch12154 at 05:42 PM on August 13, 2005

(little_brown_bat is not a Mister, and she's not an oldster neither, you whippersnapper. Now, get off my lawn or I'll show you the back of my hand!)

posted by chicobangs at 05:55 PM on August 13, 2005

(Picks up stick, spies hornet's nest) Why is it that the same free speech zealots who decry the supposed 'PC' agenda are also the first ones to support laws to shut up anyone who says something they define as 'anti-American'? Think about what you mean by free speech and how you want it applied first, before the knee jerk stuff kicks in (if that's not annoying the mixed metaphor police).

posted by owlhouse at 06:11 PM on August 13, 2005

I really dont know if it's racism; I tend to think its the ignorance of an old man from another era. Offensive...yes; racist...I dont think so. "He shoulda slud!" Dizzy Dean

posted by calcynic at 06:12 PM on August 13, 2005

(Picks up stick, spies hornet's nest) Why is it that the same free speech zealots who decry the supposed 'PC' agenda are also the first ones to support laws to shut up anyone who says something they define as 'anti-American'? (whack, whack, whack) Too much of a generalization. I consider myself conservative and decry the PC agenda. But I don't want to shut up anyone. Let everyone have their say. The problem is that I don't see the PC agenda as being anything like that. They want to shut everyone up except those that agree with them. In claiming that their agenda seeks to defend minorities and diversity, they actually seek to assimilate everyone into a homogenous center. Be color blind, be ethnicity blind, be gender blind, be sexual preference blind, be religious blind, and on and on. I'm sorry, but no one is that blind. The thing is we have to learn to deal with it all and accept it all. Pretending it doesn't exist does not work. And, yes, I know that my discussion of the PC agenda is a generalization, too.

posted by graymatters at 06:44 PM on August 13, 2005

I'm very liberal and I think PC is a direct affront to the first amendment. The easiest way to find out if a person is racist, ignorant, feebleminded, or whatever, is to let them speak and let them be heard. You shouldnt go to jail for what you say, but you may damn sure lose your job for it. Losing the job is distasteful, but constitutional. "He shoulda slud!" Dizzy Dean

posted by calcynic at 06:54 PM on August 13, 2005

(Picks up stick, spies hornet's nest) Why is it that the same free speech zealots who decry the supposed 'PC' agenda are also the first ones to support laws to shut up anyone who says something they define as 'anti-American'? (whack, whack, whack) Aagh! Bees! The stinging hurts! The stinging hurts! /runs away

posted by grum@work at 06:56 PM on August 13, 2005

Here's a copy of the email I sent to Claiborne, after hearing his interview and listening to a bit of KFNS stream. (I'm just getting over steaming about the firing of one of my local talkers, Larry Krueger).... Never heard of you before the Feller debacle. Wish it was still that way. Guess I'm spoiled on good sportstalk, because, in my humble 54 year old opinion, you are fairly devoid of talent, though, in your business, a big fat, fast mouth combined with a vacuous brainpan can add up to an hour show on FOXSports. Thank God I cut my teeth on WIP Philly and KNBR San Francisco. My heart goes out to the great fans of St Louis who are stuck with you and your bush league station. "He shoulda slud!" Dizzy Dean

posted by calcynic at 07:07 PM on August 13, 2005

Being a latin american myself I cannot believe that anyone with an objective and unbiased mind may take Mr. Fellers's comments as racists. Both the black community and the latin community must not shield themselves from comments or critics and label them as "insults" or "racism". The comments made by Mr. Feller are not an indicative of prejudice but the response from certain groups certainly show a lack of temperance and discipline so much needed among the latin americans in their own countries and in sports. Lets stop this inmature way of analyzing any comments and then, instead bring forward intelligent analysis based on facts not on mere subjective feelings of deep based inferiority. This is America, lets speak out, but lets do it without using our own fears or prejudices as weapons or shields. Mr. Feller is a gentelman and deserves our respect.

posted by Red4ever at 07:17 PM on August 13, 2005

Right on Red4ever!! "He shoulda slud!" Dizzy Dean

posted by calcynic at 07:27 PM on August 13, 2005

yea ok chico, whatever you say! lmao! now go stand on your lawn

posted by Sasquatch12154 at 07:32 PM on August 13, 2005

I don't know if Feller is a jerk or a racist, or both. I have difficulty figuring out how to put comments that Caribbean players don't know the entire rule book in a positive, non-racist light because as far as I know the rules of baseball are the same in every language. He he has made comments in the past calling out Caribbean players, Jim Thome, and Muhammad Ali. Feller said that Ali changed his religion and his name so that he wouldn't have to fight for his country. If he still doesn't get it, then I think it is no surprise that folks might think he is a racist.

posted by bperk at 08:05 PM on August 13, 2005

The problem is that I don't see the PC agenda as being anything like that. You will find the "PC Agenda" filed right next to the "International Zionist Conspiracy". Now stop being silly.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 08:29 PM on August 13, 2005

More knee jerk liberal double standard bull shit.... Its O.K. for minoritys to get on tv or other forums and talk about other races.. But don't let a white person say anything because all of the sudden their racist.. Like I said double standard bullshit

posted by maclmn at 08:41 PM on August 13, 2005

maclmn, I'm going to assume you jumped to your comment without reading the story or the ensuing discussion, which included research and further background information. It's all there. Turns out the racism call was a broadcaster crying wolf, and if you'd read the thread you'd know that. We reserved judgement until we had some more facts. No knee-jerk double standard here at all, pal. Sorry. To throw around words like knee-jerk and racist in, well, in such a knee-jerk and racist way is kind of rich.

posted by chicobangs at 08:55 PM on August 13, 2005

Not to derail, but anyone who thinks he or she can identify a sports-talk radio host's race by the sound of his or her voice never heard Art Rust Jr. of WABC in the '80s...

posted by ajaffe at 07:36 AM on August 14, 2005

journalism by sound byte--dont you just love it?!

posted by daddisamm at 07:58 AM on August 14, 2005

All these accusations of oppressive political correctness are a conversation killer. There hasn't been a single person in this discussion who feels that sports host was fair to call Feller a racist.

posted by rcade at 09:34 AM on August 14, 2005

Rcade, thats what journalism all about these days. The journalist becomes part of the story. Its been said before, Bob Feller is many things but racist isnt one of them.......

posted by daddisamm at 10:15 AM on August 14, 2005

Let's try a few quotes from Bob Feller: "I don't think baseball owes colored people anything. I don't think colored people owe baseball anything, either. " (1) "He's tied up in the shoulders and can't hit an inside pitch to save his neck. If he were a white man, I doubt if they would even consider him big league material." (2) "I object very strongly to Muhammad Ali being here to throw out the first pitch, and you can print that. This is a man who changed his name and changed his religion so he wouldn't have to serve his country, and, to me, that's disgusting." (3) Those are the closest to "racist" comments that I could find. I don't think they reflect a racist attitude as much as a strong moralistic "hollier-than-thou" attitude. If you look at his comments on the radio show and substitute "Australian" for "Caribbean" would you think they are racist? I've heard other ballplayers say much the same thing about players from that area of the world. Which one of us hasn;t heard that players from that area of the world make a name for themselves for their power hitting abilities? I think it says more about the leagues and schools of that area of the world than it does about the talent of the players.

posted by ?! at 11:16 AM on August 14, 2005

Nice work ?!... I found this also in the sites you sent . The rap on Feller was the remark he passed about Jackie Robinson. When Jackie came up to Brooklyn Feller said that if he were white he would not have made the major's.

posted by evil empire at 11:45 AM on August 14, 2005

I just heard the sound byte from Feller's interview on Espn Radio. The host clayborne totlally baited Feller. Now ESPN is going to HAve Feller on both TRadio and TV this afternoon. I am sure we havent heard the end of this. I feel sorry for Feller-He is a likable, yet outspoken person from baseball's past. At 86 he doesnt deserve to be treated like this.....

posted by daddisamm at 12:34 PM on August 14, 2005

-- "us whites?" Oh, bluekarma, please, please don't speak for me. And when someone is 86 years old, no matter what they've accomplished (and Feller has accomplished more than most of us ever will), their ability to explain themselves properly is only going to get worse from here on out. He didn't say anything close to what he's been accused of. Claiborne is an asshole with an agenda, his pigmentation be damned, and his using a hot-button issue to try and advance his career at the expense of the reputation of an 86 year old Hall of Famer with fading debate skills is wrong.

posted by chicobangs at 12:51 PM on August 14, 2005

Bob Feller is 86 year old man with with more wisdom in his fingernail than most of us reading these posts. Calling feeler an racist is a bit much ,but truly admitting that he comes from an different era and speaks on the basis of his past and our present would not be far fetched.

posted by macrec1 at 07:22 PM on August 14, 2005

?!, I'm mising something in #1 and #3. I guess #2 could be problematic, but you've neglected to provide the context mentioned in your link: from an interview with the book's author, John Sickels: " the time he [Feller] didn't think Jackie Robinson was going to make it. He thought Robinson couldn't hit a high fast ball. Jackie and Feller later got into a war of words over this, but it doesn't seem to have had anything to do with race. As for integration itself, he certainly wasn't against it. .... Feller's tours with Negro League players in 1945 and 1946 did much to convince people that African-Americans deserved a shot in the majors." I've always taken Feller's comments on baseball and baseball's integration to be the words of a very talented man who spent his whole life in a meritocracy, a man with a limited patience for those with less talent.

posted by yerfatma at 09:27 PM on August 14, 2005

yerfatma: You aren't missing anything. There wasn't anything. That was the point of the quotes (and the links so you could get the context without having to copy it here.) The man's 86 and a curmudgeon, but after a cursory glance I couldn't find any real racist comments -- even though many posters (on other boards) casually called him a well-known racist. By the way, I've never cared for Feller's comments about Ali, but I don't believe he's the racist.

posted by ?! at 11:17 PM on August 14, 2005

Too much of a generalization (sorry italics not working). Pot. Kettle. Black. Which was my point.

posted by owlhouse at 12:20 AM on August 15, 2005

I got nothing against Feller - this seems like a bit of a witch hunt. It will fuel the anti-PC police around here like cocaine mixed with chilies.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 08:23 AM on August 15, 2005

why would I speak for you??? Chicobangs sounds like a mexican to me. If I said "caucasian" would that be better??? Trust me, us whites get the crappy end of everything these days, even though it is us who have made this a better country to begin with. But I still would rather be white than any other color. Period.

posted by bluekarma at 02:21 AM on August 16, 2005

Glad we got that settled. /tunes World's Smallest Violin, plucks string

posted by yerfatma at 06:24 AM on August 16, 2005

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