Baseball fans in the late '90s and early 2000s knew the name John Rocker -- and not for his pitching prowess. Rocker's career highlights include being seventh in saves in 1998 with 38 and pitching 21 straight scoreless innings in the post-season with both the Atlanta Braves and the Cleveland Indians. Rocker became well-known for his negative comments toward minorities and other groups of people, which ultimately overshadowed his playing.
John Rocker was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 1994 and started out with the class A Danville Braves, moving up through the system. In 1998, he was promoted to the majors and went back and forth a few times. The following year was the closer during the Braves' win over the New York Mets for the National League Championship. The Mets were a new division rival, following the realignment that moved the Atlanta Braves to the National League East. During the regular season, Rocker became known for disparaging Mets fans, and they returned the sentiment. In December 2000, in an interview published in Sports Illustrated, Rocker made comments that were considered to be racist, homophobic and sexist, and kept up his negative sentiment toward New York in general. Baseball commissioner Bud Selig suspended him for all of spring training and the first 28 days of the 2001 season, which was later reduced.
After the article came out, Rocker threatened the reporter who wrote it. Not long afterward, he was sent back to the minors, spending six days there. The Braves claimed his stint was due to his poor performance and not his behavior, but it spelled the end of Rocker's time with the team. He played for the Indians and the Texas Rangers, making headlines there again when he made anti-gay remarks in a Texas restaurant in 2002. Rocker ended his major league career with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2003. Two years later, he signed with an independent minor league team, the Long Island Ducks, and was released that same year.
Author's Note: 5 Baseball Players Sent Back to the Minors
Like I said, I'm a baseball fan, but that doesn't mean that I knew a lot about the history of some of these players. I enjoyed learning more about some players who were little more than names to me before. There are plenty of players who moved up and down in the minors, and in and out of the majors, during the course of their careers. So I tried to find the unique stories within that basic designation of getting "sent back." Every player who signs with a major league baseball team dreams of making it out of the farm system, but of those who do, many of them don't go on to have a significant career in the majors. There are just too many factors and too few slots.
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