The Orioles Aren't RacistIn a letter appearing in The Sun...


October 17, 1992

The Orioles Aren't Racist

In a letter appearing in The Sun Oct. 3, a writer, discussing the alleged insensitively of the Orioles toward minorities, drew // questionable conclusions on a number of operating decisions through the years.

I believe these opinions are in error and should not go unanswered.

1. Although Frank Robinson was traded at the end of his career, and white stars like Brooks Robinson and Jim Palmer were not, I ask who eventually returned to manage the Orioles and is now assistant general manager? It certainly is not Brooks or Palmer. By the way, there were plenty of white players traded, like Frank was, at the end of their careers -- i.e. Mike Flanagan, Rick Dempsey, Fred Lynn, Mike Boddicker, etc.

2. Eddie Murray was a star performer who wanted the fans to love him without showing anything in return. When they didn't respond at a level he felt appropriate, it was he who insisted on being traded. If he had behaved with just a tinge of warmth instead of openly brooding, the fans would have embraced him and he probably would still be an Oriole. By the way, has anyone noticed how little time he remained with his beloved home-town team in Los Angeles?

3. I remember Dennis Martinez and all the opportunities he was given to straighten himself out. He had greatness but was overwhelmed by a drinking problem he could not shake off in Baltimore. I'm happy to see him succeed in the National League, but the Orioles had no choice but to let him go. Apparently it turned out to be the best thing for him in the long run.

4. Jose Mesa is another story. Maybe he was mishandled by the Orioles and maybe not. The Mesa story is still being written. He is not totally successful with the Indians yet. But one thing is sure, he was given endless opportunities over several years to make the team and would have been in the starting rotation today if he performed better than others.

5. Mark McLemore has done a tremendous job for the team this year and was rewarded with a great deal more playing time than any other Orioles utility player. Remember, it was the Birds who kept him in the majors after he was dumped by California.

6. I agree that Sam Horn should have been given more playing time, but the fact that Johnny Oates preferred to use a well-established, and expensive, slugger like Glenn Davis instead cannot be construed by reasonable people as being racially motivated.

Finally, the charge that Orioles' baseball announcers refer to white ballplayers by their first names and black players by the last name is unmitigated hogwash.

I listen to broadcasts of Orioles' games on radio and TV all the time and can't tell you how many times I've heard Devereaux called Mike or Devo, Milligan called Randy or Moose, Horn called Sam and Gomez called Leo.

The only conclusion I can make in reference to the complaints itemized in the letter printed in Oct. 3 is that if you are predisposed to find prejudice in every human endeavor, you will manage to do so, providing you are willing to stretch and distort innocent facts.

Donald Klein


New Market Memories

Bennard Perlman's splendid Oct. 10 sketch, "New Market," gave a bigger boost to my Saturday morning than I could have expected from any cup of coffee. Directly across the street from the featured wrought-iron stoop rails was the home of my grandfather, Dr. Jesse Wright Downey.

My grandfather's brother, Frank Downey, owned the house with the ornamental rails and and operated a general store in the house next door. The houses were connected by a second-story walkway.

William Downey


Catastrophic War on Drugs

I am writing this in response to a recent editorial concerning drugs. Two weeks ago, a young friend of ours, 20 years old, just starting his adult life, was shot to death while returning to his home in a neighborhood where druggies have recently installed themselves (not far from Camden Yards).

This horrible loss of a young life is absolutely appalling to all who knew him. Yet it is a story nowadays often repeated to the point where no one even listens.

The much vaunted war on drugs is an unbelievable failure. It is manifest that President Bush and his people have absolutely no understanding of the problem, which has grown steadily and predictably worse year after year.

Most species confronted with such repeated failure over many years would have evolved some kind of new approach. Alas! Humans seem incapable of learning and condemned to pay a ver heavy price for intransigence.

The problem is in a certain sense simple enough: The dru control program has been based entirely upon the punishment of drug users and purveyors, without any consideration for the rest of society.

How much simpler it would be to let the drug users use their drugs. It is no doubt true that many would have shorter lives.

But many non-drug users also have shorter lives, shot to death by drug operators.

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