Though teammates and coaches took great pains this week to describe Kenny Rogers’ actions as out of character, at least one former Rangers beat writer will disagree, reports the Dallas-Forth Worth Star Telegram’s Jim Reeves.
Eleven years ago Simon Gonzalez, for the past four years a senior writer for Franklin Graham’s charitable organization Samaritan’s Purse, was a Star-Telegram sports writer and the backup reporter on the Rangers’ beat.
He was then and still remains one of the most mild-mannered, easygoing people I’ve ever known, a man with deep faith and strong convictions.
He was the last person anyone would have ever expected to be involved in a clubhouse confrontation.
Just like innocuous Larry Rodriguez, in fact.
But Simon had written something that Kenny didn’t like, something a bit “sarcastic,” Gonzalez concedes now.
There’s still a question about whether Rogers actually read the article or whether someone simply said something about it to him.
Rogers, as the story unfolded later, asked another member of the media to point out Gonzalez in the clubhouse before the game.
After the game, when Gonzalez joined a group of reporters interviewing pitcher Kevin Brown, that day’s starter, Rogers made his move.
He stepped in front of Gonzalez and began shoving him toward the clubhouse door.
“Kenny came up and said something like, ‘Nope, you don’t get to talk to him.’ He then, not so gently, ‘escorted’ me out of the clubhouse,” Gonzalez said.
“It was obviously premeditated. He basically pushed me out. I put up just token resistance. I decided it wasn’t worth getting into a fight over.”
The scene was also caught on videotape by local cameramen and replayed later on SportsCenter.
“Not exactly how you want to get your 15 minutes of fame,” Gonzalez said ruefully. “I don’t remember saying anything to him while it was happening. I was feeling shock and surprise that he would do that, and I think I was probably a little embarrassed to be involved in something like that.”
Fortunately, Gonzalez wasn’t injured beyond his battered pride.
It was particularly galling when the clubhouse security guard would not let him back inside the clubhouse so he could do his job.
The incident was not blown up nearly as big as this latest one, but maybe it should have been.
Major League Baseball didn’t become involved, but certainly Rangers president Tom Schieffer and general manager Tom Grieve took it seriously.
The two met with Rogers and Gonzalez the next day and Schieffer demanded that Rogers apologize.
The pitcher was also fined a significant amount — Simon doesn’t remember how much exactly — and the money was donated to a charity that the two agreed upon.
For Gonzalez the incident was just a fading memory, until he was vividly reminded of it by watching Rogers go berserk last week.
“I’m thinking there’s some lingering neck pain I may have to see an attorney about,” Gonzalez said.