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Friday, November 27, 1992 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Steve Kelley

Biggest Turkey Is Marge Schott, Not Magic

Congratulations to all of you who voted Magic Johnson Turkey of the Year. I hope you're feeling good about yourselves this holiday weekend.

But as you gloat over making your vote count, I hope you consider what you've done.

Perhaps, in your fractured logic, you were thinking - no, you certainly weren't thinking. Perhaps you were appalled by Johnson's lifestyle. Sex with six women at one time. Sex in an elevator. Sex in an executive's office. Sex. Sex. Sex.

"I experienced all my fantasies," Johnson told Chris Wallace on "Prime Time Live."

I cringed when he told those stories. I winced when I saw that dazzle in his eyes when he spoke of his fantasies.

Was this Magic Johnson or Hugh Hefner in his prime?

Johnson bought into the celebrity lifestyle, but consider the price he is paying. He has the AIDS virus. AIDS is a death sentence.

The odds say Johnson won't live long enough to see his son play prep basketball. He will suffer for his lifestyle. It will be a painful, probably public, suffering.

He is HIV-positive. He no longer plays NBA basketball. Do you really feel good about calling him a turkey? Do you get your kicks mocking people with life-shortening viruses? Did you get a rush every time you dialed the phone and cast your vote for Magic?

I believe very few people really voted for Johnson. I think it's the same sad few who have scrawled their notes in crayon about Johnson to me. A smattering of nattering nabobs with nothing better to do than dial a telephone number over and over and over again.

Johnson has admitted his mistakes. Don't you think, every day in his private moments, he regrets those mistakes?

He is devoting the rest of his life to raising money for AIDS research. He is working to raise awareness of the disease. He is doing good work.

Johnson's watch is ticking faster than most of ours. He deserves to be treated with dignity. Calling him a turkey is both undignified and ignorant.

And speaking of undignified and ignorant, if you wanted a turkey to vote for this Thanksgiving, you had one served to you on a platter.

The landslide winner of this year's Turkey of the Year Award is Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott. The winner? The trophy should be retired to her living room. Maybe she could place it on the mantle, next to her swastika.

Schott is a perpetrator of hate. She is an equal opportunity hater. Jewish, Asian, African-American - she's never met a minority she liked.

A former Reds comptroller says Schott ordered him not to hire blacks, telling him, "I don't want their kind here." The comptroller also said Schott slandered Jews and Japanese.

Think Marge might like to move the Reds to a compound in Hayden Lake, Idaho?

A former Oakland A's employee, Sharon Jones, said this week she once heard Schott say on a conference call, "I'm sick and tired of talking about this race thing. I once had a nigger work for me. He couldn't do the job. I had to put him in the mail room and he couldn't even handle that. I later found out the nigger couldn't read or write. I would never hire another nigger. I'd rather have a trained monkey working for me than a nigger."

Only one of the Reds' 45 front-office employees is black.

Schott might prefer her team play in white hoods instead of red baseball caps.

To her credit, Marge hired a Latino manager, Tony Perez, but at the press conference announcing the hire, she said her dog, Schottzie 02, picked Perez because the manager's nickname is "Doggie." Perez's laugh was forced.

Schott admitted she possessed an armband with a swastika on it. When she is asked if she is anti-Semitic, she defends herself by saying, "No. They are not smarter than us, just sharper."

She calls some of her remarks, "innocent humor," but they are neither innocent nor humorous.

You have to feel sorry for Kevin Mitchell, who was sent to Cincinnati in last week's trade with the Mariners. Going to the Reds is like getting traded to Johannesburg, South Africa.

We always thought Schott was quirky. Her dog romped and pooped on the artificial carpet before games at Riverfront Stadium. She once wanted her players to wear dog-ear flaps on their World Series baseball caps. She was just a silly car dealer.

But would you buy a used car from this woman?

She is the undisputed turkey of 1992. Give her the award and a pink slip. Take away her audience so her prejudices can molder in obscurity.

Put a leash on Marge Schott and drag her out of baseball.

Copyright (c) 1992 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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