Marge Schott, the infamous former owner of the Cincinnati Reds, was known best for her outrageous behavior in public, her drunken spiels to the fans during games, her large St. Bernard dogs and her great financial contributions to Cincinnati charities.
She referred to star players Eric Davis and Dave Parker as her “million-dollar n----rs.” She also once said that Hitler had great ideas, but simply took them too far.
In 1993, she was fined $25,000 and suspended from Major League Baseball (MLB) after repeated offenses of virulent racism against Asian, black and Jewish people, respectively.
“She was one of the most tragic figures I’ve encountered in a long life,” former MLB commissioner Fay Vincent told ESPN.
She used World War II-era slurs against Asians, was a huge fan of the N-word and called Jewish people “money-grubbers.”
Her home’s Christmas decorations included a large swastika — an internationally recognized symbol of white supremacy and genocide. A symbol which should have died with the Third Reich.
Yet UC dedicated the baseball park where our Bearcats play as Marge Schott Stadium. Every year, Bearcats and other university athletes of all creeds and colors play in a stadium named after an incessant racist and anti-Semite. Fans of all backgrounds cheer on their teams in the stadium of Schott’s namesake.
Still, even after being ousted from the MLB community, Schott and her post-mortem estate made several major contributions, most notably to animal rights charities and the University of Cincinnati. The estate continues to give millions of dollars in philanthropic contributions.
Often, large contributions to sports and performing arts venues include a request to have the venue in question be named after the donor and their family.
If this was the case with Marge Schott’s donation to the baseball program, the University of Cincinnati — which boasts itself on tenets of non-discrimination and dedication to diversity — should not have accepted the donation.
UC Athletics failed to respond to multiple requests for comment.
The Kentucky side of my family always said, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” This time, however, I would have made an exception.
Schott did not represent the values of the University of Cincinnati. It is wrong for UC’s baseball team to play in a stadium named after a person like her.
Many Cincinnatians, including some of my friends from the city, see Marge as a Cincinnati icon who deserves to be celebrated.
“She was just drunk in public — she didn’t mean any of that,” some say. Others simply excuse her language as her having “no filter.”
Cincinnati’s continued celebration of such a widely disrespected woman proves that Cincinnati and the UC community both have a long way to go to alleviate racism. The remnants of the cultural gateway to the south also pass a lingering racist view to many of our citizens who are slowly departing the urban area.
I hope that we can look to the past and recognize that this woman does not deserve to have her name on any campus facility, regardless of how big her donation was.