John Rocker, was a man who Out Sports once referred to as “the poster child for homophobic athletes.” But that was 12 years ago. Today his thoughts on gay marriage have apparently progressed.
“Am I someone that thinks that I have the right to sit back and judge someone that I don’t know, will never meet, on how they should live their life or what rights they can have to live their life the way they want to? I don’t think I deserve that responsibility,” Rocker recently in an interview with Politico.
In 2000, the then Major League Baseball pitcher stormed into the spotlight, not for his on field ability, but instead for his controversial statements. Rocker finished fourth in saves in the National League in 1999 but that proved to be not enough for the hard-throwing yet hot-headed pitcher, and this was made evident in his January 2000 comments in Sports Illustrated.
When asked if he would ever consider playing for the New York Yankees or the New York Mets, Rocker said:
“Imagine having to take the 7 train to the ballpark looking like you’re riding through Beirut, sitting next to some kid with purple hair, next to some queer with AIDS, right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time, right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. It’s depressing. You can walk an entire block in Times Square and not hear anybody speaking English. Asians and Koreans and Vietnamese and Indians and Russians and Spanish people and everything up there. How the hell did they get in this country?”
Rocker was suspended for spring training and the first 28 games in 2000. But he ended up only sitting out 14 games and never missed spring training. Even after that punishment, his homophobic, racial and sexist comments led to a firestorm of anti-Rocker protests in Atlanta as well as every city he and the Braves visited.
The buck didn’t stop there. In 2002, while with the Texas Rangers, Rocker once again made headlines for yelling anti-gay slurs at patrons dining at a Dallas restaurant. The restaurant happened to be located in the heavily LGBT-populated neighborhood of Oak Lawn.
And it didn’t stop there. Being the public relations nightmare that he seemed to be Rocker decided to inject himself into the controversial “fag” comment that former Chicago White Sox and now Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen made about Chicago Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti.
"This is a free country. If he wants to use a lewd term, he should be able to use a lewd term", Rocker told the Chicago Tribune. "Can't you use a lewd term in America if you want"? Referring to sensitivity training he was also sentenced to in 2000, he was quoted as saying: "It was a farce, a way for the scared little man, Bud Selig, to get people off his ass.”
He continued to push buttons by claiming that when he attended mandatory sensitivity training he would seldom remain longer than 15 minutes. He also claimed he never paid the $500 fine that was levied against him.
Even though Rocker currently writes for the conservative political site World Net Daily, his recent comments to Politico suggest he’s had a change of heart in terms of LGBT equality.
SFGN contacted Rocker’s media representative, Debi Curizo, to elaborate on his answer to Politico’s questions. As of publication time there has been no response.