October 17, 1974 |
|Batted: Right||Threw: Left|
|May 5, 1998 for the Atlanta Braves|
|Last MLB appearance|
|May 14, 2003 for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays|
|Earned run average||3.42|
John Loy Rocker (born October 17, 1974) is a retired American Major League Baseball relief pitcher who played for the Atlanta Braves, the Cleveland Indians, the Texas Rangers, and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays as well as the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. He threw left-handed and batted right-handed.
John Rocker was a star pitcher for First Presbyterian Day School in Macon, Georgia. Rocker threw three no-hitters during his high-school career. He was soon drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 18th round (516th overall) of the 1993 Major League Baseball Draft.
In 1998, he was promoted to the major league club. In Rocker's first season in the Major Leagues, he was 1–3 with a 2.13 ERA in 38 innings pitched. The following year, an injury put Atlanta closer Kerry Ligtenberg on the DL, moving Rocker into the role of closer, where he was 4–5 with 38 saves and a 2.49 ERA. In 2000, he was 1–2 with 24 saves, posting a 2.89 ERA, but in June 2000, Rocker was demoted for threatening a reporter.
Braves fans were initially willing to support him; however, as Rocker received intense taunting from opposing teams' fans, his pitching performance declined. On June 23, 2001, Rocker was traded to the Cleveland Indians, with whom he played in the 2001 ALDS against the Seattle Mariners. Rocker was traded for right-handed relievers Steve Karsay and Steve Reed and cash for Rocker and minor-league infielder Troy Cameron, Atlanta's first-round draft pick in 1997. In Cleveland, his record was 3–7 with a 5.45 ERA and four saves. The Indians chose not to retain him and traded him to the Texas Rangers for pitcher David Elder. In Texas, he refused designation to the minor leagues. In 2002, he again struggled at 2–3 with a 6.66 ERA and was released. In 2003, Rocker signed with Tampa Bay but was released after two appearances and an ERA of 9.00.
He took the 2004 season off to recover from surgery on his left shoulder. In 2005, he signed with the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League after training with the Chattahoochee High School Cougars in Alpharetta, Georgia. The Cougars later went on to win the 5A State Championship. In April 2005, he asked New Yorkers to "bury the hatchet." After going 0–2 with a 6.50 ERA in 23 games, he was released on June 27, 2005.
For a story published in the December 27, 1999 issue of Sports Illustrated, Rocker made a number of allegations stemming from his experiences in New York City and answering a question about whether he would ever play for the New York Yankees or the New York Mets.
|“||I'd retire first. It's the most hectic, nerve-racking city. Imagine having to take the 7 Train to the ballpark looking like you're riding through Beirut next to some kid with purple hair, next to some queer with AIDS, right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time, right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. It's depressing... The biggest thing I don't like about New York are the foreigners. You can walk an entire block in Times Square and not hear anybody speaking English. Asians and Koreans and Vietnamese and Indians and Russians and Spanish people and everything up there. How the hell did they get in this country?||”|
During the interview, he also spoke of his opinion of the New York Mets and their fans:
|“||Nowhere else in the country do people spit at you, throw bottles at you, throw quarters at you, throw batteries at you and say, 'Hey, I did your mother last night — she's a whore.' I talked about what degenerates they were and they proved me right.||”|
The interview was conducted while driving to a speaking engagement in Atlanta. The reporter, Jeff Pearlman, wrote that during the interview session, Rocker spat on a Georgia 400 toll machine and mocked Asian women. Also, Rocker supposedly referred to black teammate Randall Simon as a "fat monkey".
Although Rocker later apologized after speaking with Braves legend and Hall of Famer Hank Aaron and former Atlanta mayor and congressman Andrew Young, he continued to make controversial remarks. For his comments, he was suspended without pay for the remainder of spring training and the first 28 games of the 2000 season, which on appeal was reduced to 14 games (without a spring-training suspension).
In 2002, while with the Rangers, Rocker again made national headlines for his views after directing slurs towards patrons of a Dallas restaurant at which he was dining, located in the heavily LGBT-populated neighborhood of Oak Lawn in Uptown Dallas.
In June 2006, Rocker defended former teammate Ozzie Guillen, at the time the manager of the Chicago White Sox, for referring to Chicago Sun-Times sports columnist Jay Mariotti as a "fag". Guillen, a native of Venezuela, claimed it was not a derogatory term and that, in Venezuela, the term only questions another man's courage rather than his sexual orientation.
"This is a free country. If he wants to use a lewd term, he should be able to use a lewd term", Rocker told the Chicago Tribune. "Can't you use a lewd term in America if you want"? Referring to sensitivity training, he was quoted as saying: "It was a farce, a way for the scared little man, Bud Selig, to get people off his ass". Rocker stated that when he attended mandatory sensitivity training he would seldom remain longer than 15 minutes. He also claimed he never paid the $500 fine that was levied against him.
In late 2006, Rocker was interviewed by the popular sports blog, Deadspin along with girlfriend Alicia Marie. In the interview, Rocker discussed his "Speak English" campaign, as well as his upcoming book (which was eventually published in 2011). Rocker stated that the book will not be used to try to repair his reputation, but will rather be "more conservative Republican rantings." Also during the interview, Rocker lambasted John Schuerholz, his former general manager with the Braves, calling him "a piece of shit."
|“||Absolute certainties are a rare thing in this life, but one I think can be collectively agreed upon is the undeniable fact that the Holocaust would have never taken place had the Jewish citizenry of Hitler's Germany had the right to bear arms and defended themselves with those arms.||”|
In March 2007, Rocker was implicated in a steroid ring that included Applied Pharmacy of Mobile, Alabama. He was listed on the client list along with 1996 Olympic wrestling gold medalist Kurt Angle.
In a December 12, 2011 New York Baseball Digest article, written by Mike Silva, Rocker readily admitted to using steroids:
|“||Yeah, of course I was [using steroids]. I mean who wasn't? Let’s be honest here, who wasn't?"||”|
Movie and television appearances
Rocker made his screen-acting debut in the 2002 horror comedy The Greenskeeper as a murderous golf-club groundskeeper.
Other media activity
John Rocker is currently director of public affairs for Save Homeless Veterans.
- Tampa Bay Rays all-time roster
- List of Major League Baseball players named in the Mitchell Report
- Eastbound & Down
- "Call this school Rockerville: BATTLE OF THE DECADE: BRAVES VS. YANKEES , The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, October 26, 1999. Accessed November 8, 2007. "In Jim Turner's worn leather wallet is a ticket stub from John Rocker's first game in a Braves uniform, from spring training on March 1, 1998. "I carry it around just to remind me that dreams can happen," says Turner, Rocker's old high school baseball coach at First Presbyterian Day School."
- "Braves Pitcher John Rocker Demoted to Minors, Fined After Threatening Reporter At Atlanta Game". Jet (Google Books). 2001. p. 51.
- "Rocker spews hate in this week's SI - Thursday December 23, 1999". Sports Illustrated. December 23, 1999.
- "Rocker rankles fans, retires Mets." ESPN.com.
- "Rocker Sorry for Remarks". Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. 2002-08-06.
- "Rocker Rocks The Boat Again". CBS News. 2009-02-11.
- "Report: Rocker calls sensitivity training a 'farce'". ESPN.com. June 26, 2006.
- Leitch (December 13, 2006). "John Rocker interview". Deadspin.
- "John Rocker writes in column that Holocaust ‘would have never taken place’ if Jewish people had guns". Daily News. January 15, 2013.
- "Two more arraigned in nationwide steroids probe". ESPN.com. March 6, 2007
- Silva, Mike (December 12, 2011). "John Rocker on New Book, the Mets, Bud Selig, Steroids, and Politics". Mike Silva's NY Baseball Digest.
- Gavin, Patrick (July 16, 2012). "John Rocker is still throwing heat". Politico. Retrieved July 17, 2012.
- Bennett, John (4 June 2013). "John Rocker goes to bat for veterans". WorldNetDaily.com, Inc. Retrieved 28 October 2013.