With September already a week old, we are finally coming down the homestretch of both the Major League Baseball season and the presidential election. I imagine for politically minded fans in places like New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Minnesota it’s been a pretty big two weeks of channel flipping. It may be the one point during the summer that I’m actually glad to be a Pirates fan – no choices to make. That said, the Pirates bullpen is probably less painful to watch than Joe Lieberman speaking.
But I digress. The previous big two weeks in both baseball and the presidential race got me wondering about the political leanings of some of the players and other associated with MLB. Fortunately, thanks to the laws as well as the unwavering thirst for gossip in this country a lot of the political donation information is available online. In fact, the site NewsMeat even went ahead and compiled a list of athlete donors. The results are pretty interesting.
Scott Boras, whose negotiating tactics seem straight out of the neo-con playbook is only on the books for democratic donation to, John Edwards’ 2008 presidential campaign. There’s no listing as far as I can tell for Frank Coonelly, current Pirates CEO and Boras’s opponent for many years as chief counsel for Major League Baseball. Don Fehr, however, is a big donor, although he seems more about promoting his own interests than any sort of philosophical beliefs. In 2000 for instance, he gave $1,000 each to the campaigns of Bill Bradley, Al Gore, John McCain and George W. Bush.
Bud Selig leans heavily democratic, supporting the DNC and lots of local Wisconsin democrats. He even gave $750 to Joe Biden’s 1988 presidential campaign. Democratic leanings seem to be the norm for commissioners, as both Gary Bettman and David Stern lean to the left. Roger Goodell donates to more conservative candidates, but that’s not really surprising, considering his dad was a Republican senator from New York. There’s also his views on those damn kids…with their…hair.
Not surprisingly, given their income income tax brackets, baseball players tend to lean towards the Republican party. Curt Schilling, a self proclaimed army brat, has been a vocal supporter of conservative politicians for a long time, and his donations back up his words. Likewise, John Smoltz has never been shy about expressing his conservative Christian-based moral principals and he too has given a lot of money to Republican candidates. Lesser known Republican supporters among former and current players include Lance Berkman, Yogi Berra, Bert Blyleven, George Brett, Bucky Dent, Keith Hernandez Tim McCarver, Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan.
The most interesting name on the list of players who donate Republican? Alex Rodriguez. He always struck me as the image conscious type who’s political activism would be stunted by the “Republicans by shoes, too” mantra of Michael Jordan. However, he donated to George W. Bush’s 2004 re-electionĂ‚Â and gave twice to Rudolph Giuliani’s 2008 presidential campaign. It’s a good thing that money came from an aloof, philandering third baseman with a tenuous relationship with his fan base and not a community organizer.
Hank Aaron is the only player active or inactive on the list that’s donated mostly to democrats, although that only verifies that this list is incomplete. For instance, Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee is a big Barack Obama contributor. It is worth noting, however, that there are far more players from the other NFL and, particularly, the NBA, who contribute to democratic candidates.Ă‚Â Perhaps this is a product ofĂ‚Â the acknowledged fact that baseball is getting fewer and fewer athletes from urban inner-cities, traditional democratic areas.
There is much more diversity among baseball owners, however. The biggest single donor on the list is Red Sox owner, John Henry, who’s given more than a million dollars to liberal candidates. Henry’s co-owner Tom Werner is also a democratic donor, and while his GM, Theo Epstein, isn’t on the list, Esptein’s father once declared “I’d rather vote Republican than root for the Yankees.” Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, a Boston native, has been into collecting former Red Sox players out in Los Angeles.Ă‚Â It should come as no surprise that he too is a big democratic donor. On the republican side are Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt, Astros owner Drayton McClane, Jr., and, for the most part, White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf. Reinsdorf is an interesting case, as he’s donated a considerable amount to John McCain’s presidential campagin. This is despite the fact that Barack Obama is a Chicago native and passionate White Sox fan, and Reinsdorf has given a lot to Obama’s democratic partner in the senate, Dick Durbin.
There are several broadcasters on the list, but for your sake, in a post that’s already gone on long enough, I’ll spare you the details. I will, however, point out the one case I find most interesting. Mike Francesca,Ă‚Â formerly of the Mike and the Mad Dog Show is listed as a straight Republican donor. On a whim, I did a search for Chris Russo, the “Mad Dog” in the title, and Francesca’s former broadcast partner for almost two decades. Russo ended their partnership earlier this summer, reportedly over his personal differences with Francesca. I found a Christopher Russo, who lives on Long Island, and, curiously, has given $1,000 to Barack Obama.
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