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A chill wind at baseball's Hall of Fame

By Randy Childs | April 25, 2003 | Page 9

THE 1988 film Bull Durham starring Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins may be the best baseball movie ever made. It seems logical then that plans were made to celebrate the film's 15th anniversary this month at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

But Hall of Fame president Dale Petroskey canceled the event, declaring that the stars' well-known antiwar views weren't welcome. Small wonder, considering Petroskey has a long history as a Republican Party hack, including two years in the Reagan White House.

No doubt Petroskey hoped to take advantage of the patriotic climate after the U.S.'s bloody victory in Iraq to score political points against two of the antiwar movement's most famous activists. But his attack has backfired. Petroskey has been pilloried by most sportswriters.

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote: "Petroskey said he didn't want Sarandon and Robbins to use the Hall of Fame platform to air their antiwar opinions. Why, then, did Petroskey invite current White House press secretary Ari Fleischer to Cooperstown to give a non-baseball speech last year? It seems that political discussion is fine with Petroskey--as long as it matches his agenda."

Sportscaster Bob Costas offered his HBO series as a venue for the censored ceremony. Acclaimed baseball author Roger Kahn canceled his own upcoming Hall of Fame appearance in protest, stating that Petroskey is "choking freedom of dissent."

Sarandon and Robbins are fighting back, too. In a fiery speech to the National Press Club, Robbins said, "A chill wind is blowing in this nation. Every day the airwaves are filled with warnings, veiled and unveiled threats, spewed invective and hatred directed at any voice of dissent."

We can't let Bush and his pals silence our opposition.

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