Racial slurs could end dog days for Reds: David Usborne on the female owner of a big league baseball team who's in deep doo-doo

SCHOTTZIE the St Bernard may have fouled the diamond at the Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati for the last time. Tomorrow, the assembled grandees of America's major league baseball are ready to eject him and his unfortunate mistress, Marge Schott, from the grounds - and the sport itself - for ever.

This is astonishing since Mrs Schott is the principal owner of the team who play at the Riverfront, the Cincinnati Reds. But while her habit of allowing Schottzie to roam, and defecate, on the field has offended many for years, she now faces charges far more serious: uttering racial slurs and so bringing the game into disrepute. She allegedly once alluded to two black outfielders, her finest players, as her 'million-dollar niggers'.

Almost a sovereign society unto itself, major league baseball is able to investigate, try and punish its own for debasing the game. Last week, a committee made up of club owners and the National League president, was assembled to investigate the charges against Mrs Schott.

Sentence could be delivered at a meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, tomorrow. Anything touching on racism in baseball always provokes the strongest reaction. A little like cricket in England, the game is meant to be the symbol of heritage and family - the national pastime. Baseball dislikes being reminded that, until 45 years ago when Jackie Robinson, a hero of the civil rights movement, first played for the Brooklyn Dodgers, blacks were not even allowed to appear in big league games.

If she is expelled - the alternative could be to fine her up to dollars 250,000 (pounds 160,000) - Mrs Schott would be the first principal owner to meet such a fate. But racial remarks have brought down others in the game.

In 1987, the general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Al Campanis, suggested in a live interview with ABC television that blacks made terrific players but lacked the 'necessities' to go on to hold management positions. Forty-eight hours later, he was gone.

Mrs Schott's departure would be much more significant for baseball. A square-shouldered, gravelly voiced 63-year-old, Margaret Unnewher Schott bought her principal stake in the Reds in 1984, six years after her husband died leaving her a lucrative car dealership chain and cement concern. At the time, the Reds were threatened with financial oblivion and she was hailed as their saviour. She happens also to be the only female owner in an all-male dominion.

A reputation as a sometimes rude but mostly friendly eccentric grew from a chronic amnesia for names and her sometimes shocking ignorance about the game itself. Best known is her affection for St Bernards.

Schottzie is actually Schottzie 02, successor to Schottzie 01 who died in 1991 after seven years as the club's mascot. Players complained in vain about the dog-mess on the turf. She once replied: 'I get their chewing gum on my shoes. They should be happy I don't have a pet horse.'

Her troubles began with a libel suit levelled against her by a former employee, who claimed he was unfairly fired for challenging her repeated use of racial slurs. The suit failed, but her deposition to the court became public last month. In it, she admitted that she might on occasion have used terms like 'nigger', 'Jap' and 'money-grubbing Jews'. She also conceded that she had an original Nazi swastika armband at her home. By the beginning of last week, the revelations had triggered a nationwide storm. In slightly contradictory interviews, the first with the New York Times and the second on ESPN television, a sports channel, she appeared more or less to acknowledge and apologise for the remarks, then later to deny having made them. In the meantime, several more former associates came forward with their own tales of racist outbursts from Mrs Schott.

Most damaging was a version offered by one former employee, Sharon Jones, of a 1988 conference telephone call between Mrs Schott and some other owners. 'I once had a nigger work for me,' she allegedly remarked. 'He couldn't do the job . . . I'd rather have a trained monkey working for me than a nigger.'

To the New York Times she insisted that if she had used racially insulting language, it was only 'kiddingly'. 'Of course, 'nigger' is a demeaning word,' she said. 'But I know blacks call it to each other, too.'

She firmly rejected charges that she had called two of her best outfielders 'million-dollar niggers'. As for the swastika armband, she said it was given to her by an ex-employee of her husband who had taken it from a dead German in the war. 'It's no big deal. I keep it in a drawer with the Christmas decorations.'

Among the chorus calling for Mrs Schott's expulsion, perhaps the most notable voice is that of Hank Aaron, the legendary hitter who beat Babe Ruth's record of home runs and was one of the first blacks in the early 1950s to follow Jackie Robinson to the top of the game. Now a senior vice-president of the Atlanta Braves, he commented: 'This person has no business being involved in baseball or society at all with what she thinks of blacks and Jews.'

The Rev Jesse Jackson, the civil rights leader and former presidential candidate, has promised to hold a demonstration outside the owners' meeting tomorrow, and other black leaders have called for a national boycott of all Reds games as long as Mrs Schott remains. Most wounding for her, however, is a formal demand by two of the Reds' seven minor owners that she resign.

Perhaps Mrs Schott will go of her own accord. 'I will stand up if I feel I'm right,' she told ESPN television. 'Baseball is, to me, one of the most important things we have in America. I've been here for eight years. But I never want to be some place if I'm not wanted.'

(Photographs omitted)

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Lewis Hamilton walks back to the pit lane with his Mercedes burning in the background
Formula 1
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con
comic-con 2014
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
A rub on the tummy sprang Casey back to life
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Tovey says of homeless charity the Pillion Trust : 'If it weren't for them and the park attendant I wouldn't be here today.'
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Employment Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little