In a letter written on April 7, Baseball Hall of Fame president Dale Petroskey announced that he was canceling a Cooperstown celebration of the fifteenth anniversary of the movie Bull Durham because of actor Tim Robbins's criticism of the war on Iraq. The missive, sent to Robbins, admonished him for using his celebrity to advance his politics, for putting "our troops in danger," and for criticizing the president at a time of war.
In a sharp response, sprinkled with allusions to his love of the game of baseball, Robbins more than handled Petroskey's faulty grasp of both logic and true American values, and lamented the loss of a "weekend away from politics and war." (The Nation has published Robbins' reply in its entirety along with Petroskey's letter.)
This incident is another small but troubling example of a pattern of increasing political correctness in this country, where people are penalized more regularly and more stringently for expressing dissenting political views. And in this case, Petroskey's role is particularly hypocritical, as the New York Timespointed out, when it reminded the Hall president, a former assistant press secretary in Ronald Reagan's White House, that his own boss was not the least bit shy about using his own prominence as an actor to advance a conservative political agenda.
Major League Baseball officials quickly distanced themselves from Petroskey's decision, saying, rightly, that MLB has nothing to do with Hall of Fame events. (The Hall is a separate, non-profit entity.) Baseball sources, quoted in New York Newsday, suspect that the decision was the result of the tight Republican Party connections of Petroskey and Hall chairman Jane Forbes Clark, a wealthy GOP fundraiser.
According to a Hall spokesman, who refused to give a breakdown, five thousand people have already been in touch to express either their disgust or admiration for Petroskey's action. Join the fun and let him know that you object to this crass attempt to politicize baseball, that Bull Durham is a good movie, and that he should rescind his decision to cancel the long-planned celebration of the film.
To express your opposition to Cooperstown's craven move, call 607-547-7200 (use the voicemail menu to reach Petroskey's office), fax to 607-547-2044, email to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to the Hall of Fame website's contact page.