Though Pat Gillick has enjoyed a reputation for fair treatment of Latin American players, comments by the Orioles' general manager about Armando Benitez this week rankled Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's liaison to the Latin community.
Gillick, trying to explain Benitez's beaning of the New York Yankees' Tino Martinez on Tuesday, attributed it to his Dominican Republic heritage.
"You have to understand Armando comes from a different culture, a different background," Gillick told The Sun on Wednesday night, after Benitez was suspended for eight games by American League president Gene Budig. "Latin American people can be quite emotional and become quite frustrated. I think Latin American people have a different temperament than people have in North America."
The mayor's liaison, Haydee Rodriguez, said Gillick's comments perpetuate negative stereotypes about Latins.
"If he's going to make that sort of observation, then he would have to comment on the temperament of people in England and Germany, where we have seen people crushed and trampled to death after a soccer match," Rodriguez said.
John Maroon, Orioles director of public relations, said there was little reaction to Gillick's comments. The club received only one phone call, from a woman who asked that Gillick clarify his statements.
"Anybody who knows Pat knows that there was no racial connotation to it at all," Maroon said. "Pat was just trying to help explain Armando's actions a little bit."
Gali Sanchez, musician and former consultant on Latin American affairs with the Orioles from 1988 to 1989, said Gillick's intentions were probably pure, though his wording was not.
"I think he's right on target with this one, though I'm not sure that's the way I would have said it," Sanchez said. "When I was with the Orioles, I dealt with a lot of Latin American players, and these guys had nothing but accolades for the Toronto Blue Jays. Pat was a big reason for that."
Gillick, in New York for the Orioles-Yankees series, was unavailable to comment.
Pub Date: 5/22/98