[Jim Hendry welcomes Milton Bradley to the club, after rigorous knee and “personality” checks.]
I’m cutting my usual complaints of combining national income tax day and Jackie Robinson Day this year (I still say name the All-Star Game after JR) to present instead yet another What Will Milton Do? story from a Chicago sports journo “ this time the Sun-Times Gordon Wittenmyer. Since Bradley signed with the Cubs, the question among Chicago scribes has been, “How will MB react to Wrigely’s notably racist fans?” It’s never, why isn’t the Tribune Co doing more to squelch racism in the Friendly Confines? It’s never, what’s wrong with Cub fans that black players ask for no-trade clauses to Wrigley? No, it’s always seen as Bradley’s issue “ and a mental health issue at that, since he complained about racism in MLB’s parks and clubhouses. No matter what fans shout at Bradley, he’s supposed to stand there in silence like Jackie Robinson in 1947 at Crosley Field as players, fans, and even the park organist taunt him.
It’s 2009. We have a black President. We have had two black Secrataries of State. Even more groundbreaking, a statue of an African-American, Ernie Banks, currently stands at Wrigley. Well, yes, they put it up after they put one up to the fat drunken guy who liked sitting in the outfield bleachers, Harry Caray. If a black ball player tells a racist fan in the stands at Wrigley to fuck off, there’s not going to be a riot. Well, except in the Wrigley media room, where Bradley will once again be portrayed as uppity or crazy. Gordon Wittenmyer badgers Bradley over hypothetical news and reassures racists of a pleasant day at Wrigley here:
If he gets booed, ”I’m not a stranger to people not liking me,” he said.
And if it’s more personal, even racial?
”I’ve heard about that,” he said. ”But, I mean, what can you do? You just hope that ushers, security do their job and kick those people out of the stadium. Because there’s no place for that anywhere.
”People are going to do what they’re going to do, and you really can’t control that. But whatever reaction I get, it’s not going to change anything I do.”
In his past, Bradley has accused teammate Jeff Kent of not being able to get along with black players; called a black beat writer an ”Uncle Tom”; picked up a plastic bottle that had been thrown near him from the stands and threw it back at the feet of the fans, and last summer, left the clubhouse in uniform to find a Kansas City broadcaster who made comments referencing his personal life.