One of the low points of my journalism career came early in my career.
I was a fresh face 25-year-old at the Detroit Free Press covering minor league baseball for the paper.
Do you know what I did?
Nothing. And that’s the problem.
I was inside the Toledo Mud Hens dressing room at the Lucas County Fair grounds where the Mud Hens played. A female reporter from Syracuse came into the dressing room before a game and I was immediately told by one of the players that she was a bitch and deserved what was coming to her.
I nodded my head and watched the juvenile behavior of one of the players.
He followed her around flipping his penis at her as the entire dressing room broke out in laughter. I laughed too but later regretted it.
I was too afraid to say something and I bought too easily into the “she deserved what she was about to get” story. She was professional and moved from player to player trying to get her story.
She ignored the player who was moving his hips in a sexual manner, trying to get her attention and the attention of the boys in the room. Women put up with more crap than their male counter parts in our business and this woman was being laughed at and was called names I would not call my worst enemy.
The boys were having a grand ol’ time at her expense. I’d like to think I would handle the situation different later in my career. I challenged players that made fun of reporters because of their youth, sex, race and the way they asked questions.
This time I lacked the courage to do something. I figured they were not bothering me and let me inside of their little joke so I had nothing to worry about. It was the wrong attitude to have and I learned that over the years.
This player pretended to masturbate behind this woman before he shrugged and went back to his dressing stall to prepare for the game.
The room laughed and roared but the real winner was the female reporter who never let on that she knew what was going on and eventually got her story.
It would take a while but I felt like a real loser. I laughed too but worst of all I let it happen and kept my mouth shut.