A story ran today in the Associated Press about Keith Foulke’s little war with MLB over a Red Sox hat Foulke had worn for most of the season – it had an American Flag patch on it. Ultimately, MLB won and Foulke will not wear the hat anymore.
“I still think I should be able to wear it,” the Red Sox reliever said this week at Yankee Stadium. “But I don’t want to do anything that would cost the team.”
He said that it was about an inch square on the left side, and most people didn’t even notice it. He got that right, I never even saw it.
According to the sport’s labor agreement, players cannot make individual changes to hats, jerseys and anything else they wear. The issue came up during the 2002 NL playoffs when San Francisco pitcher Jason Christiansen was told he could not continue writing Darryl Kile’s number “57” on his cap in tribute to his late former teammate.
I remember this altercation, and I disagree strongly with it. I believe Christiansen had every right to write ’57’ on his hat, and I think people should put what they want on their hats, but to a point. I don’t want to see pins all over Derek Jeter’s hat commemorating his World Series wins, nor do I want little story ideas all over Miguel Batista’s hat, or quotes from the Bible on Trot Nixon’s hat. A simple remembrance of a player by writing their number, or an American Flag — an American Flag! — patch on a hat should be allowable.
Selig wrote to Keith Foulke after Foulke sent a letter to the commissioner defending his hat, Selig said that he “agree(s) with and admire the patriotic sentiments expressed in your letter. While I cannot imagine anyone having an objection to our American flag on a player’s hat, we feel it is crucial that we maintain this across-the-board policy.”
The Players Union and MLB worked on this issue, until they finally reached an agreement and presented to Keith Foulke his options.
– Pay a $1,000 fine for every game he wore the hat, donating the money to a charity of his choosing, most likely one related to the military.
– Stop wearing the hat after July 4.
– Agree to avoid criticizing baseball’s position on the issue.
“That didn’t sound very good to me. It was only going to be for another eight or nine games, and then I couldn’t even talk about it,” said Foulke.
The AP closes its story with the following:
On June 24 in a game against Minnesota at Fenway Park, Foulke wore his special hat one last time. He doesn’t plan to put it on again, not wanting to risk raising any problems for the Red Sox.
This Sunday, though, Foulke will have an American flag on his cap – so will all major leaguers as part of baseball’s Fourth of July celebration.
“I think it’s great that we do it on opening day and July Fourth and 9-11,” Foulke said. “But soldiers are fighting and dying every day, and I think I should be allowed to honor them by wearing that hat.”
Speaking of fighting and dying, I refuse to comment on the Red Sox’s game escapades until we
a) win, or
b) make a trade with more impact than Jimmy Anderson and Brandon Puffer.
Until then, I will talk about things that will not give me ulcers.