Monday, April 12, 2010

Merkle Was Bullied by Press

Fred Merkle Card
Much is being written about bullying today, especially cyber bullying and the tragic consequences to young people who are victims of it. According to two researchers who spend their time researching and educating people on the harmful effects of cyber bullying, Professor Smeer Hinduja and Professor Justin Patchin, the most common form of cyber bullying offending is "posted something about another person to make others laugh." Sadly, the professor’s research indicates that the victims of cyber bullying were twice as likely to have attempted suicide than those who had not experienced such bullying. (

It seems like the public has been very slow to understand the sinister nature of ridicule, which has been part and parcel of our culture for a long time. At Sporting Chance Press, when we think of the victims of ridicule, we think of our hero, Fred Merkle.

Of course, back in 1908 when Merkle fell victim to intolerable abuse, the Internet didn't exist, but the newspapers were passionate about ridiculing public figures for cheap laughs and newspaper sales. As Mike Cameron details in Public Bonehead, Private Hero, Fred Merkle ( was perhaps the greatest victim of such ridicule in history. Some would suggest that Merkle was a public figure, a highly paid athlete and was fair game for such attacks. But, the 19-year old ballplayer was barely out of High School, substituting for an injured veteran and called out for violating an obscure rule that had not been enforced before. For all his trouble, the unfortunate Fred Merkle would never hear the end of it – the shameless press even bullied the poor man in his obituary.

If there is good news that comes out of the Merkle story, it is that those who become familiar with the circumstances and the impact on the Merkle family ought to be more cognizant of the impact of ridiculing others. The lesson for those who are bullied today might be that it is possible for them to hold their head up and get on with life as Fred Merkle did. Those of us who know better need to do what we can to support those who are victims.

Those who are bullied online today by their circle of acquaintances may want to see how Merkle was nationally ridiculed. Merkle was blasted not just once in a string of coast to coast articles, but many times over, again and again unfairly, when he happened to make a bad play or even when someone else may have made one and was compared to “bonehead” Merkle.

At Sporting Chance Press, Merkle is one of our heroes. We are inspired to overcome the problems in our own lives when we think of what Merkle was able to accomplish in light of his challenges. We like to see the good in sport, and Merkle certainly exemplified good in his battle to overcome the odds against him in baseball and life (

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