STRIKEOUT: Torii Hunter lashed out at a reporter for asking him about his political activities in Arkansas. Hunter was off base by a mile.

Torii Hunter, the Pine Bluff native and major league baseball star, called a reporter a prick four times during a news conference yesterday for asking about his endorsement of Asa Hutchinson for Arkansas governor and his opposition in that endorsement to same-sex marriage.

The news conference was on the occasion of Hunter signing with the Minnesota Twins. ESPN recounts:


Newspaper reporter Mike Berardino asked near the end of the news conference whether Hunter’s political activity might have affected his free agent search for a new team.

Hunter taped an ad for Hutchinson that aired on black radio stations. In it, Hunter said: “Asa is committed to the principles we hold dear, like a strong faith in God, equal justice for all, and keeping marriage between one man and one woman.” Despite endorsements from Hunter and several other prominent black people, Hutchinson got a scant percentage of the black vote, though he easily won election over Democrat Mike Ross.


Yesterday, having been asked about that, the following occurred:

After one follow-up question by the reporter and a brief lull in the proceedings, Hunter calmly lashed out at him.

No, I’m not going to talk about it if you bring it up. It’s not even baseball related. We can do that later, when I retire. Then I’ll tell you the truth — everything.

“Hey Mike is kind of a p—-k huh? No, seriously, you’re a p—-k, man,” Hunter said. “I don’t even know you. You’re a p—-k. Seriously. Ain’t nothing wrong with that man, that’s your job. He’s definitely a p—-k, though.”

Hunter had at first responded that it wasn’t something he liked to talk about, saying he believed it best to “just go with the best person that’s good for the situation.”


“And I’m from Arkansas and I know what’s that, that’s all,” Hunter said. “This has nothing to do with being a Democrat or a Republican, just make sure you make the right decision. That’s it.”

The reporter then asked Hunter if he would continue discussing his beliefs on gay marriage publicly, or if he would answer future questions about it.

“No. I mean, nah. There’s nothing to talk about,” Hunter said. “You already know, so why keep talking about it. I said it. It is what it is.”

“No, I’m not going to talk about it if you bring it up,” Hunter added. “It’s not even baseball related. We can do that later, when I retire. Then I’ll tell you the truth — everything.”


Hunter may be worth $10.5 million for a year of baseball, but he hasn’t learned much in his 39 years. Politics ain’t beanbag. Reporters are paid a good bit less than $10 million a year to ask questions. When public figures get involved in politics, they should expect to get questions about their activities.

Also: Hunter works in Minnesota, not Arkansas. Minnesota voters REJECTED a proposal to ban same-sex marriage. Its legislature approved a bill explicitly approving same-sex marriage. He’s expressed support for a a restriction on marriage — in behalf of a political candidate — that is illegal in the state paying him $10 million dollars. Hunter was asked a fair question. The dickishness in evidence yesterday was not from the reporter. UPDATE: HIs wife did a better job, according to the reporter’s account.

Also: Minnesota Public Radio provides context for why an anti-gay ballplayer could expect to get questions there. 

Last July, Major League Baseball used its biggest in-season stage — the All-Star Game in Minneapolis — to try to convince people that its days of creating a hostile environment for the gay athlete — or gays at all — are over.

It tried to make amends for its treatment of Glenn Burke, a player who died of AIDS.

Baseball has never had an openly gay player, try as it might to stage events to convince people that this fact is anything but the result of a hostile environment for the gay athlete, made so by the athletes who play baseball and the people who run the teams and the game itself.

When it held its news conference last July to set the record straight, nobody said it wasn’t the time nor place to talk about baseball and gays.