(This story was published in 2002).
Texas Rangers relief pitcher John Rocker, already infamous for his homophobic and racist comments in Sports Illustrated in 1999, apologized for anti-gay remarks he made towards patrons Sunday on a Dallas restaurant.
Rocker was having brunch at Breadwinners with his girlfriend. Breadwinners is, according to 102.1 FM KDGE openly gay morning talk show host Jagger, known for being “very gay friendly.” According to witnesses quoted by Jagger, when Rocker got up to leave, after sitting next to two men at another table, he said, “f***ing fruitcakes.” He then left the restaurant to retrieve his car.
Rocker apparently then yelled at a transgendered woman, who happened to be exiting the restaurant, from his car. When the woman yelled back, Rocker got out of his car and got into a screaming match with the woman for what witnesses told Jagger was five to 10 minutes. Included in his comments were, “you’re nothing but a f***ing freak” and “I hope you get AIDS and die.”
Rocker issued a written apology, according to the Associated Press, as he gave his version of events.
"It seemed as if they were trying to bait me with suggestive comments," Rocker said in the statement. Rocker said he finished his meal and got up to leave. Then, he said, the unidentified patrons followed him out of the restaurant, located in a predominantly gay neighborhood, and made an obscene gesture, AP said.
"At that point, I admit I was angry and said some things I probably should not have said, but I wanted to make it clear their attentions were unwelcome," he said.
Rangers general manager John Hart issued a separate statement, saying: "John told me he did lose his temper after some customers badgered him, made suggestive comments and then followed him and his girlfriend out of the restaurant."
"Of course, we do not condone name-calling," Hart said. "Our general advice to players is to leave a hostile public situation. And that's what he did. It is my opinion that this is a personal issue between John and the people in the restaurant." Rangers spokesman John Blake told AP that Rocker did make anti-gay remarks but "I didn't ask him exactly what he said."
While he was with the Atlanta Braves 2 1/2 years ago, Rocker made some appalling comments about his dislike for New York to Sports Illustrated: ‘‘Imagine having to take the 7 train to (Shea Stadium in New York) looking like you’re (in) Beirut next to some kid with purple hair, next to some queer with AIDS, right next to some dude who got out of jail for the fourth time, right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids,’’ Rocker said. ‘‘It’s depressing.” Rocker served a 30-day suspension from baseball in 2000 for his remarks.
Jagger, whose boyfriend happened to be in the restaurant at the time of Rocker’s outburst, will be talking with several people involved with the incident on his radio show, The Morning Edge, from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., on Tuesday.
Attempts to reach the Texas Rangers were unsuccessful. The manager of Breadwinners was not sympathetic towards Rocker.
"He's human but he should know better," Breadwinners manager Feletia Lee told Dallas-Fort Worth television station KDFW. "There are a lot of people here who aren't going to go to any Rangers games again.
"I'm not going to go. I can't support them. That is just uncalled for."
Rocker has been on the disabled list since July 4 with an injured shoulder.