When Major League Baseball went looking for teams to play in its inaugural Civil Rights Game, an exhibition scheduled for March 31 in Memphis, the Indians seemed a perfect fit. The Tribe, after all, employed the game's first black manager (Frank Robinson), the American League's first black player (Larry Doby), and the league's first special-needs child (Albert Belle).
But real Indians in Memphis aren't sure that a team represented by a cartoon chief pays particularly swell homage to civil rights. The city sits on the Trail of Tears, where the U.S. Government forced Cherokees to relocate out west in 1838, inconveniently killing thousands along the way.
"It shows a tremendous insensitivity toward Native American people," says Pat Cummins of Tennessee's Alliance for Native American Indian Rights.
Tribe VP Bob DiBiasio says Chief Wahoo won't appear on the team's uniforms for the game; both Cleveland and the St. Louis Cardinals will wear special Civil Rights Game garb. Plans to have some guys from a nearby bar reenact Wounded Knee have also been scrapped.
But DiBiasio says there's nothing demeaning about the Indians' name or logo. "We are who we are. Our logo is what it is . . . When people look at our logo, they think of baseball."
Unless, of course, they don't.
"I don't see baseball," says Cummins. "I see the exploitation and the disrespect toward an entire ethnic group."
When Browns halfback Reuben Droughns was traded to the New York Giants, he left behind more than a flash in the pan, a couple of arrests, and a nice chunk of the salary cap.
On West Ninth there remains the small matter of a 17-by-110-foot banner picturing Droughns running the ball, most likely toward the sidelines. The banner was the first and most public move by the Reuben Droughns Foundation, a charity with the seemingly lofty goal of promoting Reuben Droughns, since there aren't a lot of philanthropists in the nightclub district. Just ask the bartenders.
To be seen at night -- when studies show drunks are most vulnerable to charity pitches and/or Jäger bombs -- the banner needs nine 250-watt lights. And like Droughns on third-and-two, it's not going anywhere.
"We will continue the work that Reuben would like to accomplish, whether in the city of Cleveland, New York, or elsewhere," says Hank Reed, the foundation's executive director.
He responded by e-mail, since the foundation's phone, like his boss' legs, has been deactivated.
Odor in the court
A racist cop and a churchgoing grandmother -- these were among the defendants to appear before Judge Peter Corrigan in the past month. But in the weird world of Cuyahoga County justice, you won't be surprised which one went down.
In one case, Cleveland cop William Forrest had been charged with felonious assault, abduction, and inciting violence during a 2005 West Park bar brawl. It wasn't hard to figure out who started the fight. Forrest approached a black man and his white girlfriend, hurled racial taunts, leaned on the woman, and shoved the man ["Love and Hate," February 1, 2006]. Yet Corrigan cleared Forrest of any wrongdoing. Since all the witnesses had been drinking, no one's testimony could be believed, he said. (Corrigan has since been excommunicated from the Irish.)
The ruling is expected to set a precedent for any crime committed in a bar, Parma, or County Recorder Pat O'Malley's office.
Next on Corrigan's docket was the case of Jacquie Maiden and Kathy Dreamer, the county elections board workers accused of rigging the 2004 election recount.
Maiden -- the wife of a preacher -- and Dreamer were convicted of negligent misconduct, but the case was sketchy at best. Though the women illegally presorted ballots, they were just following orders from Assistant County Prosecutor Reno Oradini, board Director Michael Vu, and board Chairman Bob Bennett ["Guilt by Association," January 31]. Even a juror who helped convict the women told Scene that he didn't think their crimes were intentional.
"You don't send a 60-year-old grandmother to jail," says Maiden's lawyer, Robert Rotatori. "She's never had a traffic ticket in her life."
Yet Judge Corrigan hammered the women with 18 months each. The sentence would have been much lighter, conceded the judge, had the women been pounding Irish Car Bombs while working.
Please, not Kansas City
It's the medical version of the lottery. Every year, on a single day, fourth-year medical students around the country learn at which hospitals they'll spend the next 3-6 years of their life during their residencies. Though a computer system attempts to match the desires of both hospitals and students, it can be a moment of complete joy or total devastation. Last Thursday was that day.
"I really felt anxious all week," says Case student Hana Choy. "I started having all these horrible dreams where I ended up in awful places like Kansas City."
Tradition dictates that all students discover their future at once. Most brought friends and family as they waited for the clock to strike noon.
When Choy got her envelope, she ran outside to open it in private. "If it was bad, I didn't want to cry in front of anyone," she says. But Choy got her first choice: Christiana Care in Delaware. She was thrilled.
So was Tama Porter, who landed a residency at the University of Cincinnati. Others weren't so lucky. They could be seen sobbing, surrounded by friends who reassured them that "Missouri is really not such a bad place to live."
This only made them cry harder.