We’ve all watched a game in which a player with a peculiar sounding name will hear the boo birds upon coming to the plate. Red Sox 1B Kevin Youkilis? “yooooooouuuuuuu”; White Sox 2B Tadahito “Gooch” Iguchi? “Goooooo”; Aaron Boone? “Booooo” – wait a minute… – at any rate, you get my point.
This phenomenon is not exclusive to baseball, it happens in stadiums across the American landscape. And even though you’d imagine Indian’s Outfielder Shin-Soo Choo getting the boo-as-cheer treatment because of his name; sadly that wasn’t the case last week.
Before being called up on Tuesday, Choo did hear the boos. But what’s disturbing is that he wasn’t rained on with jeers for his performance, or because of a heated rivalry between AAA Buffalo (the Indians’ affiliate) and the Toledo Mud Hens. He heard them for a different, but very wrong reason:
Outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, promoted to the big leagues Monday by the Indians, has heard boos before.
Last week, the boos took on a disturbing tone. When Class AAA Buffalo, the Indians’ top farm club, played in Toledo, fans apparently associated him with […], the Virginia Tech senior who killed 32 of his schoolmates before killing himself April 16.
“Some fans said bad things,” said Choo before Monday’s game. “It’s pretty close to my name. My name is spelled Choo, and his name is […].”
How unfortunate that this kind of situation presents itself; but I’d say it takes something like this to expose where society is most vulnerable. It’s a matter of asking oneself: “why would a minor leaguer have anything to do with the individual that perpetrated the Virginia Tech campus last week?”
Nothing. So why boo him? Why harass him?
For the Indians, though, it wasn’t the only connection to the shootings.
Steven Bumbry, son of former Indians coach Al Bumbry, is a freshman outfielder at Virginia Tech.
“About a half hour after the news about the shootings was televised, I called Steven to see how he was doing,” said Johnny Goryl, advisor to the Indians player development department. “He was in the dorm right next to the one where the first two students were killed. I told him to stay in his room until he heard from school officials.”
At this point, I think, any discussions about the VT shootings should be grounded on what can be done to move on. Booing and harassing a player because he has a Korean sounding name, is not one of them.