He once called New York baseball fans “stupid” and made several racist and homophobic remarks about other residents of the city, but now pitcher John Rocker believes he is making a smart move to revive his career in, of all places, the New York area.
Rocker, 30, yesterday signed a contract to pitch for the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League, where he is hoping to showcase his talents and attract interest from a major-league club.
Ducks owner Frank Boulton considered Rocker’s excess baggage before making his decision to add the pitcher to the roster of the defending league champions – after he received an unlikely inspiration.
“I took all of this in and I asked myself: Does he deserve another chance?” Boulton said. “I’m a Catholic. I went to Villanova. I was watching all those people lining up this week to see the Pope and I wondered, ‘What would the Pope do?’ He would give him another chance.
“He didn’t commit a crime. He’s paid for making inappropriate remarks as a 25-year-old.”
From a pure pitching standpoint, Ducks pitching coach Dave LaPoint, a former major-leaguer, said Rocker still throws hard enough to be a good fit for the Ducks. “I told him this is the best place to show he can get back to the big leagues,” said LaPoint, who believes Rocker has plenty left. “We’re like the Yankees of the independent leagues. Everyone is out to get you.”
If nothing else, Rocker will be pleased to know that he’ll not have to take the 7 train to get to his new place of employment. He might encounter the odd undesirable on the LIRR (if not Jim Carey trying to recover his memory), but that’s how public transport is these days.