Bad Behavior

Problematic sex errors in the field

By Marc Katz

Usually, when the subject of sex comes up in sports—or politics—it’s not a happy story.

There have been some incredible moments, and I’m not talking about sexual violence.

That’s in a category of its own for bad behavior.

I’m talking about what appears to be consenting adults’ behavior.

Say hello to former Mississippi football coach Hugh Freeze.

Wave to Pete Rose.

Can I mention a train wreck of a trade from years ago: Fritz Peterson’s wife and two kids for Mike Kekich’s wife and two kids?

And how about two of our last four presidents, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump? When the standards are established at the top, there’s no telling where the followers will go.

For awhile, I was going to go with the sexual abuse route, but there’s too much of that in the every day headlines, and when I was a full time sports reporter, I didn’t cover much of it anyway, not that it wasn’t going on.

I’ve seen more “she said, he said” stories than I’d like. Sometimes the guy is ambushed, but many more times the burden is put on the woman. Even if she wins a rape case, she gets painted as some kind of floozy.

That’s not the way it should be.

Now Pete Rose is fighting aback against allegations he raped an under-aged girl while he was playing for the Reds in the 1970s.

He doesn’t deny he had sex with the girl. He denies she was under-aged.

Let’s run this by the censors. Rose doesn’t want his good name besmirched. While in his 30s and with a wife and two children, he had an affair with a girl he believed to be about 16. She’s saying she was 14 or 15 at the time.

Well, now that he’s cleared that up, along with his betting, he should be an automatic for the Hall of Fame.

Rose, who denied for 15 years he bet on baseball, brought this new story to everyone’s attention by suing lawyer John Dowd, whose investigation for baseball led to Rose’s banishment in 1989.

Dowd came back in the news recently for joining President Trump’s legal team. He also, in 2015 during a radio interview in the Philadelphia area, alleged Rose had relations with 12-14-year-old girls in spring trainings in the 1970s.

Rose sued. This is not good publicity for the Hit King.

How about Mississippi football coach Hugh Freeze and before him, Arkansas football coach (now at Louisville) Bobby Petrino? (Okay, as long as we’re at Louisville, give an ovation for basketball coach Rick Pitino.)

Without going into great detail, Freeze—who had other problems at Mississippi the NCAA was investigating—was found to have a phone call on his cell phone that didn’t make sense and that he called a misdial. Investigators called the number which was for an escort service.

They asked for more phone records, and more escort services appeared.

That’s not the kind of image any college wants to project, and Freeze was allowed to resign—without compensation—almost immediately from his $5 million-a-year job.

A few days later, he told USA Today, “God is good, even in difficult times.” He said he had a “wonderful wife and family, and that’s my priority.”

Well, now.

Then there was the case a few years ago of Bobby Petrino, who was hired by Arkansas and eventually was fired when it was discovered he was having an affair with a woman much younger in the athletics department.

He was out of coaching a year before being hired by Louisville, which already had Pitino on staff, even after that Hall of Fame coach was caught with a woman who was not his wife and allegedly paid for an abortion for her since he was considered responsible.

Despite a clause in his coaching contract that reads he could be fired for, “acts of moral depravity or misconduct that damages the university’s reputation,” he was not. He defended himself, in part, by saying his “connection” with the woman in question took, “no more than 15 seconds.”

It’s not only men. Former Detroit-Mercy athletics director Keri Gaither resigned (although it was clear she could not stay) after it was discovered she was having an extra-marital affair with an assistant basketball coach (who also “resigned”), Derek Thomas.

It was alleged by another coach on the team that players often gathered outside Gaither’s room on road trips to hear Gaither and Thomas inside.

The all-time story on athletes and sex has to be Yankee pitchers Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich.

This was originally pitched, in 1973, as a love story.

The two pitchers had been friends. They became friendly with each other’s wife. They exchanged—not only wives, but children.

Peterson stayed with his new wife, but Kekich was done in less than a year.

Their baseball careers didn’t last much longer. Before 1973, Peterson was 101-91. He was 42-57 after that. Kekich was 32-42 going in, and 9-14 going out.

“I hope you don’t make anything sordid out of this,” Peterson said when he and Kekich announced in spring training what they had done.

“Don’t say we swapped wives,” Kekich pleaded. “We swapped lives.”

If you were looking for a happy story, this isn’t it.

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Marc Katz
Columbus-born Marc Katz had a 44-year newspaper career, 41 of those years covering sports, 40 of them at the Dayton Daily News. He now blogs at KatzCopsNSports.com. Reach Dayton City Paper sports writer Marc Katz at MarcKatz@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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