April 10, 2003

boo to the baseball world

MLB cancels 15th anniversary screening of "bull durham" citing anti-war criticism by co-stars Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon.

"Hall president Dale Petroskey sent a letter to Robbins and Sarandon this week, telling them the festivities April 26-27 at Cooperstown, N.Y., had been called off. Petroskey, a former White House assistant press secretary under Ronald Reagan, said recent comments by the actors 'ultimately could put our troops in even more danger.'

Petroskey wrote: "In a free country such as ours, every American has the right to his or her own opinions, and to express them. Public figures, such as you, have platforms much larger than the average American's, which provides you an extraordinary opportunity to have your views heard -- and an equally large obligation to act and speak responsibly.

"We believe your very public criticism of President Bush at this important -- and sensitive -- time in our nation's history helps undermine the U.S. position, which ultimately could put our troops in even more danger. As an institution, we stand behind our President and our troops in this conflict.

"In his letter, Robbins said he'd been looking forward to 'a weekend away from politics and war.' He said he remained 'skeptical' of the war plans and told Petroskey he did not realize baseball was 'a Republican sport.'

"'I am sorry that you have chosen to use baseball and your position at the Hall of Fame to make a political statement,' Robbins wrote. 'I know there are many baseball fans that disagree with you, and even more that will react with disgust to realize baseball is being politicized.'

"'To suggest that my criticism of the President put the troops in danger is absurd. ... I wish you had, in your letter, saved me the rhetoric and talked honestly about your ties to the Bush and Reagan administrations.'

"'You invoke patriotism and use words like 'freedom' in an attempt to intimidate and bully. In doing so, you dishonor the words 'patriotism' and 'freedom' and dishonor the men and women who have fought wars to keep this nation a place where one can freely express their opinions without fear of reprisal or punishment.'"

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