Marge Schott: The Donald Sterling PrequelBy: Mike Tuttle - April 28, 2014
Donald Sterling is in hot water. It looks like there is little question now that the Los Angeles Clippers’ owner did indeed say what everyone thinks he said about black people. As the hours pass, one person after another pipes up to condemn his statement, distance themselves from him, or point out that this is not the first time he has run his mouth like this.
Magic Johnson has come forward and said that Donald Sterling should no longer own a team in the NBA.
Al Sharpton has called on the NBA to remove Sterling or face a protest march.
The Clippers themselves have staged their own symbolic protest, with more perhaps to come.
But Donald Sterling is not without precedent. Anyone remember Marge Schott?
Marge Schott has long since become a punchline, but back in the 1980’s, she was the esteemed owner of the Cincinnati Reds. In the 1990’s, she still owned the Reds, she just wasn’t as esteemed anymore.
You see, Marge Schott had a bit of a tendency to run off at the mouth. Former employees said that they heard her refer to certain players on the Reds team as “million-dollar niggers.” One said that she told him that “sneaky goddamn Jews are all alike.” She kept a Nazi swastika in her home.
Apparently she thought that Hitler was an ok guy in his early days, kind of like Bob Dylan before he went electric. In a 1992 interview with The New York Times, she said that ”Hitler was good in the beginning, but he went too far.”
She once told a former employee of the Oakland A’s, “I once had a nigger work for me. . . . I would never hire another nigger. I’d rather have a trained monkey working for me than a nigger.”
She used a “cartoonish Japanese accent” when describing her meeting the prime minister of Japan.
But Marge Schott continued on as owner of the Reds! In fact, she did not sell out until 1999. She was not allowed to be in day-to-day management capacity with the team at the arena, but no one could force her to sell.
Donald Sterling may have one tough road ahead of him. America’s fuse has gotten shorter, in some respects, since the days of Marge Schott. Let’s see how long he lasts and what kind of deal gets cut.
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