John Rocker, the major-league pitcher whose politically incorrect comments to a reporter were remembered long after he retired from baseball, debuts today as an exclusive weekly columnist with WND.
A fierce defender of conservative values, Rocker says his book, “Scars and Strikes,” is a wake-up call to those who base their perception of him on the Sports Illustrated article that led to a 14-game suspension from baseball in 2000. MLB Commissioner Bud Selig assigned Rocker to mandatory “sensitivity” training as part of his “sentence.”
Drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 1993 after his senior year of high school, Rocker remained with the organization for nine seasons and served as the team’s closer during his last four years with the Braves, although he began his career as a starting pitcher. He joined the Cleveland Indians in 2001, the Texas Ranger in 2002 and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2003, where he completed a one-year contract before undergoing what proved to be a career-ending shoulder surgery. Rocker pitched in two National League Championships, one World Series and four Divisions Series, accumulating 21 1/3 scoreless playoff innings during his professional career.
It was in 1999 that Rocker had his best year in the majors, appearing in 74 games and posting 38 saves, with 104 strikeouts in only 72.1 innings pitched.
Jeff Pearlman was the Sports Illustrated writer whose report sparked a media firestorm aimed at Rocker.
Commenting on ever playing for a New York team, Rocker told Pearlman: “I would retire first. It’s the most hectic, nerve-racking city. Imagine having to take the [Number] 7 train to the ballpark, looking like you’re [riding through] Beirut 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.”
Rocker’s teammates and friends in Major League Baseball rushed to defend him, but the damage was done.
After his retirement, Rocker moved on to a successful career in real estate development. Including the ownership and development of two smaller commercial deals, Rocker has participated in nearly $100 million in real estate transactions over the past decade.
Known for giving free rein to a myriad of columnists from right to left, WND is pleased to bring Rocker’s writing to its Commentary page each Tuesday. Read Rocker’s debut column for WND, “Roger Clemens and the big-government circus.”