Remorse Code

Paul Slansky rates baseball apologists
June 18, 2006

It's possibleScott Sauerbeck is the first Cleveland Indian to be picked up by police whilehiding in a hedgerow at 4 a.m. with a woman who was not his wife. But if histransgression was unique, his remorse was not; it was part of a tradition."I want to apologize to my family, my teammates, the organization and thefans," the reliever (right) said on May 30, before pleading not guilty toobstructing official business and allowing someone intoxicated to operate hiscar. (It's a long story.) "I'm sorry if I created a distraction for myteammates."

Athletes havemade acts of contrition an art form (Life of Reilly, May 8), but the sorriestsport of all, in terms of the quality and quantity of apologies issued, isbaseball. Here are the national pastime's four greatest mea culpists--withapologies for any that have been overlooked.

Marge Schott"I did not mean to say anything insensitive."
The late Reds owner went public with regret often during the '90s, afterrevealing herself as homophobic ("only fruits wear earrings"), racist(she admitted it was "possible" that she had referred to Martin LutherKing Jr.'s birthday as "N----- Day") and pro-Hitler (she owned aswastika armband and once said, "Everybody knows he was good at thebeginning, but he just went too far").

Wade Boggs "Itotally regret the situation."
The Yankees' third baseman apologized in 1996 for telling a flight attendantwho refused to deliver one last beer before landing that he would "kick[her] fat lips in." Boggs was already an expert in self-reproach. Sevenyears earlier he expressed sorrow after Margo Adams revealed their four-yearextramarital affair in Penthouse, blaming his philandering on an addiction tosex: "Wade Boggs is human, and I'm sorry for what I did.... A disease wastaking over Wade Boggs, and it just did for four years."

Darryl Strawberry"It was something I should not have said even jokingly."
The former outfielder has been sorry for many drug relapses, but his moststartling moment of remorse came in 1993, when he was asked about wildfiresblazing in Southern California: "Let it burn down, because I don't livethere anymore."

Pete Rose "Iam not a bad person, but I did some bad things."
After being banned from baseball in 1989 for gambling, the Hit King offered astring of halfhearted bleats of contrition in a futile quest for reinstatement.Finally, in 2004, Rose came clean--sort of--in his autobiography: "I'm surethat I'm supposed to act all sorry or sad or guilty now that I've accepted thatI've done something wrong. But you see, I'm just not built that way."

Paul Slansky isthe co-author, with Arleen Sorkin, of My Bad: 25 Years of Public Apologies andthe Appalling Behavior That Inspired Them.

PHOTOJOE KOHEN/GETTY IMAGES (ROSE) PHOTOCHRIS O'MEARA/AP (STRAWBERRY) PHOTOMICHAEL CAULFIELD/AP (BOGGS) PHOTOTOM DIPACE (SAUERBECK) PHOTONEAL C. LAURON/REUTERS (SCHOTT)

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