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Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Peter Gammons Lies About John Kerry

ESPN/Boston Globe baseball writer Peter Gammons obviously dislikes John Kerry and has been spreading lies about Kerry in his columns, as some right-wing blogs are gleefully noting. Jesse Taylor of Pandagon links the five Corner posts on this (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) and the two Gammons columns on ESPN (1, 2) that level the charges. It's also been picked up by Robert Cox of the National Debate and probably elsewhere. Let's examine the Gammons pieces, first the earlier one, dated December 22, 2000:

There are no Tip O'Neills or Bill Welds, just city councilors who suggest using Braves Field (which hasn't existed for 30 years), and national representation summed up by a junior senator whose idea of the common man is someone who can only put $10,000 into his campaign funds, thinks low-cost housing is a $680,000 house on Nantucket, changed his middle name to be J.F.K., threw someone else's medals into the ocean in a Vietnam Veterans rally and out-Hillaried that lifelong Yankee fan by appearing on WEEI's Eddie Andelman's show and told listeners he's a lifelong Red Sox fan whose favorite Bosox player was Eddie Yost (too bad Yost never played for the Red Sox).

The "junior senator" is a reference to Kerry, for whom Gammons obviously feels contempt. The huge revelation here is that Kerry mistakenly said he was a big Sox fan as a kid and Eddie Yost his favorite player, but Yost never played for Boston (Yost was a third baseman who played most of his career, spanning 1944-1962, with the Washington Senators). Gammons repeats this charge in his latest column, dated July 15, 2004:

We have been led to cynically believe that many politicians are disingenuous and generally phony, but few will ever beat Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. This man, who changed his middle initial to be JFK and at an anti-Vietnam rally threw someone else's medals into the water, made a self-promotion appearance with Boston talk-show maven Eddie Andelman and claimed he was a big Red Sox fan from his days growing up in Groton, Mass. And at the promotion he said Eddie Yost was his favorite player.

The problem with that is just the simple fact that Eddie Yost never played for the Red Sox.

The Gammons vendetta is effectively taken apart by this Sons of Sam Horn discussion from 2000. They note how Gammons goes after people sometimes, notably ex-Sox GM Dan Duquette. Kerry has also never changed his middle name. Forbes is his mother's maiden name, the name of one of the upper-crust old New England families, so it's just coincidence that he turned out to be JFK like the president he idolized. A SOSH poster says the politician Gammons is thinking of is actually South Boston City Councillor James Kelly. And really, if Kerry had actually changed his name like this, I'm sure the RNC would've made a huge deal of it long ago. (The Corner does duly note this error by Gammons in a follow-up reader email they posted. Still, you can make a good case of Kerry being a little too obsessed with JFK, asking his St. Paul's classmates to call him by his initials, for example.)

Then there's the small fact that there's no "ocean" in Washington, DC, and the medals-throwing wasn't into "water" either (as Gammons revised the charge for the new version of the attack) but over a fence in front of the US Capitol.

With this disregard for facts, why should we take the Gammons version of what was said by Kerry on a sports radio talk show with Eddie Andelman at all seriously? There's no transcript or direct quoting here, so it's entirely possible Kerry spoke of his admiration for Eddie Yost without suggesting Yost ever played for the Red Sox. Hating Kerry as he does, Gammons could then misrepresent the interview to provoke the ire of Red Sox fans against the Senator--how dare he go on the radio and talk about how he's a fan of baseball when he might misstate some detail about the game?! Gammons is there to make sure that there's no pandering to the baseball fan vote.

If Gammons truly believes that the candidates' tenuous connections to baseball are relevant to the election, he might want to look into a shady stadium deal the Rangers worked out when George W. Bush was owner that screwed Texas taxpayers to the tune of millions of dollars. Better yet, the cranky old man should quit dabbling in politics and stick to baseball.