July 31, 2014

Sorry Dirk Hayhurst, Your Tell-All Says Just As Much About You As It Does Your Teammates

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Last year, David Price called Dirk Hayhurst a nerd. I think he got off easy. His latest article paints him as far worse.

You see, on July 30, former baseball player/current baseball writer Dirk Hayhurst published an article called Minor League Manhood on Sports on Earth. It was a lengthy indictment on the machismo behaviors of minor and major league teammates he played with throughout his career; from casual sexting to actual gang rape.

He intended to write a full, honest account of the endemically sexist culture in professional baseball. He intended to, “set the world afire,” he claims, in a tweet he’s since deleted.

Well, he sort of succeeded. Only he may have indicted himself along the way.

You can read his accounts here. Trigger warning trigger warning OMG TRIGGER WARNING. 

One particularly disturbing story was about an admitted gang rape his teammates were party to. It happened in 2003 during Hayhurst’s time in the San Diego Padres minor league system.

He outlines a conversation, post-assault, that he had with one of the perpetrators:

“Aren’t you worried that this is going to come back to bite you in the ass?” I asked, after the latest recounting of the “train schedule.”

“Why? You gonna tell?”

“No, I guess not. But, you know, it seems wrong.”

“Don’t hate on other players’ good time, man. That’s part of being a good teammate. As long as you don’t do that, nothing bad is going to happen.”

He was right: Nothing did happen. No penance was paid for those poor, suckered women. No sins were atoned for, and no iceberg ever did sink Jimmy Keets*. The lack of consequence almost seemed like proof of the rationale.

[**names were changed by Hayhurst for the purposes of his account]

Actually he was wrong. Something did happen. This woman experienced a trauma she can’t possibly have consented to, and she has to live the rest of her life with it. I wouldn’t call that nothing.

There were no consequences in part because Hayhurst was silent. He could have helped bring about not only consequences, but justice for these “poor, suckered women” for whom he claims sympathy.

Let’s bring this full circle. The same day Hayhurst published his story, Evan Reed was charged with the sexual assault of a 45 year old woman in Detroit.

Evan Reed was a relief pitcher for the Detroit Tigers. Due to poor performance, though (0-2 with a 4.88 ERA in 27 major league appearances with the Tigers this year), he is now a AAA pitcher in the Tigers organization.

The charges allege that Reed sexually assaulted a Detroit woman the night before the Tigers’ 2014 opening night game.

The Detroit Tigers released the following statement

“As an organization we take matters like this very seriously and we are closely monitoring the situation. Evan Reed’s representatives are handling his legal proceeding that must run its course before there is any further comment from the ballclub.”

What happened to the woman at the hands of Evan Reed is not the same thing that happened in Hayhurst’s accounts. However, I shudder to imagine if someone had heard Evan Reed admit to what he did to her, but only spoke out 10+ years later. And changed Evan’s name. And deliberately obfuscated details for the sake of maintaining the criminal’s anonymity.

Nearly ten years ago, I was the victim of a drugging and a violent sexual assault. There were witnesses. Nobody spoke up. Not when they were called to testify. Not when I pleaded with them to forget the prosecutor, to just tell me what they saw. Nobody.

There were consequences. For me at least; the poor, suckered woman.

Now I won’t drink anymore. I can’t go to a bar or restaurant without facing the entrance. I have to establish clear exit strategies everywhere I go. I police my every move, especially in public spaces. I carry mace. I learned self defense and how to fire weapons. I question motives.  I don’t take public transit during certain hours. If it’s after dark, I won’t walk my dog in public. I get angry at my boyfriend, also a major league baseball player, if he doesn’t hold my hand tightly enough when we’re walking at night.

I really could have used a credible witness at that time when I needed it most. Thoughtful sympathy from someone hearing what happened to me would have been nice. But a credible witness would have been far nicer, and far more helpful.

The article Dirk Hayhurst wrote says as much about Dirk Hayhurst as it does about his former teammates. And tweeting that he intends to “set the world afire” with his stories of the dangerously entrenched masculine culture of professional baseball rings as self-serving. Especially on a day when real, current crimes are being charged, and real, current victims could use someone who does more than sit on their trauma for 10+ years, only to sort of report it later.

Rapists don’t think they are rapists. They need to be called out for their actions loudly and repeatedly. Silence (or internalized hand-wringing) is all the tacit approval they need

I haven’t told many people about the crime that happened to me. Many victims don’t. I was scared the perpetrators could find me. I was scared to tarnish my own image. I was scared to embarrass my boyfriend, whose career or locker room reputation could suffer.

The reason I’m talking about it now is because if I can’t talk about it, the perpetrators still control me. For almost ten years they’ve controlled where I walk my dog, how safe I feel, where I sit, when I go out, what I wear, and who I trust. Enough.

It makes me very sad to think there could be another person like me out there who had someone witness their trauma and who stood silent.

If you see or hear about something like this, speak out. Say something. Do something. Quiet sympathy is just not enough. TC mark

Eireann Dolan

Speechwriter, dog petter, pizza reheater, bat flipper, boyfriend haver, Paul Simon’s Graceland appreciator.

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