Wednesday, April 16, 2003


The following comes to me as an e-mail, and I hope that I'm not infringing any copyrights by reprinting it.

National Baseball Hall of Fame
April 7, 2003
Mr. Tim Robbins

Dear Mr. Robbins:

The President of the United States, as this nation's
democratically-elected leader, is constitutionally
bound to make decisions he believes are in the best
interests of the American people. After months of
careful deliberations, President Bush made the
decision that it is in our nation's best interests to
end the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein, and to disarm
Iraq of deadly weapons which could be used against its
enemies, including the United States. In order to
accomplish this, nearly 300,000 American military
personnel are in harm's way at the moment. From the
first day we opened our doors in 1939, The National
Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum--and many players and
executives in Baseball's family--has honored the
United States and those who defend our freedoms.

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

As a result, we have decided to cancel the April 26-27
programs in Cooperstown commemorating the 15th
anniversary of Bull Durham.

Dale Petroskey
president, Baseball Hall of Fame

Tim Robbins
April 9, 2003

Dear Mr. Petroskey,

As an American and as a baseball fan, I was dismayed
to read your letter canceling my appearance at the
Baseball Hall of Fame due to my public criticism of
President Bush. I had been unaware that baseball was a
Republican sport.

I was looking forward to a weekend away from politics
and war to celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of Bull
Durham. I am sorry that you have chosen to use
baseball and your position at the Hall of Fame to make
a political statement. I know there are many baseball
fans that disagree with you and even more that will
react with disgust to realize baseball is being

As an American who believes that vigorous debate is
necessary for the survival of a democracy, I reject
your suggestion that one must be silent in time of
war. To suggest that my criticism of the President
puts the troops in danger is absurd. If people had
listened to that twisted logic we'd still be in
Vietnam. I must remain skeptical of the war plans of
Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, all of whom have never been
in battle, one of whom skirted service in Vietnam for
a cushy stateside job. It does not surprise me that
these men, in their current federal budget have cut
$844 million dollars from Veteran's health care. Yes,
let's support the troops. For Life.

I wish you had, in your letter, saved me the rhetoric
and talked honestly about your ties to the Bush and
Reagan Administrations. You are using what power you
have to infringe upon my rights to free speech and by
taking this action hope to intimidate the millions of
others that disagree with our president. In doing so,
you expose yourself as a tool, blinded by partisanship
and ambition. 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 one's opinion without fear of reprisal
or punishment.

Your subservience to your friends in the
administration is embarrassing to baseball and by
engaging in this enterprise you show that you belong
with other cowards and ideologues in the Hall of
Infamy and Shame.

Long live democracy, free speech and the '69 Mets; all
improbable glorious miracles that I have always
believed in.

Tim Robbins

To add my two bits' worth, prior to seeing these letters, I had already e-mailed Petroskey to complain. I wish Robbins hadn't gotten political back. To my mind, the great thing about baseball is that it democratizes all... it has room for liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats... heck, even communists. All fine. All Petroskey had to do was to ask -- not even order, but ask -- Robbins and Susan Sarandon to keep their politics out of whatever event was to unfold, and nobody would have thought twice about it.

Petroskey has to do what he wants to because the current administration is flexing its muscle like an imperial power, creating a world in its own self-image. You know the old saying, "Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should." It applies to genetic engineering and it applies to war in Iraq. And it especially applies to a director of a museum who goes out of his way to exclude half of his audience. In the words of Red Foreman -- what a dumbass.