Friday, January 11, 2013

Donald Fitzpatrick is Jerry Sandusky - so how come no one knows about him?

The stories are revoltingly similar in so many ways, yet Jerry Sandusky triggered an eruption in the national media, while Donald Fitzpatrick is virtually unknown - except of course to his legions of victims, and the Boston Red Sox

The Sandusky scandal has yielded a seemingly endless string of jolting aftershocks.
From the PSU Board of Trustees' dereliction to the fraudulent Freeh Report. From the brutal NCAA sanctions to the revelation of the Second Mile's never-ending supply of victims for Sandusky.
But perhaps nothing has been more disturbing than discovering, during the continuous process of monitoring the Sandusky scandal, so many other child sex abusers connected to sports. And how strikingly underpublicized some of them are.
The most remarkable example: Former longtime Boston Red Sox clubhouse manager Donald Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick's child sexual abuse reign of terror is startlingly Sandusky-esque. And even though he has been dead more than seven years, Fitzpatrick's legacy of abuse is still expanding today.
However, while Sandusky ignited a Big Bang-like explosion in the media universe, Fitzpatrick, inexplicably, has been a ripple in a distant pond.
You've likely never heard of Fitzpatrick or his sickening actions. Much of his story was laid out in Nov. 2011, in this amazing piece by Jeff Passan, published shortly after the Sandusky scandal broke.
For more than two decades, Fitzpatrick was sexually abusing boys inside baseball stadiums and clubhouses. Almost all of Fitzpatrick's victims are African-Americans. In 1991, after a lifetime working for the Red Sox, Fitzpatrick stopped showing up for work - four days after one of his victims stepped forward. A man at a Red Sox-Angels game in Anaheim had worn a sign saying "Donald Fitzpatrick sexually assaulted me."

Initially, in '91, the Red Sox gave the first victim $100,000. Several more victims came forward in the ensuing years. Charges were brought in Polk County, Fla., where Fitzpatrick had abused boys at the Red Sox' Winter Haven spring training home.
Fitzpatrick pled guilty in 2002 (though his plea, somehow, did not include jail time), and in 2003 the Red Sox paid $3.15 million to seven victims.
More alleged victims have emerged since Fitzpatrick's 2005 death. And in 2012, astonishingly, more accusers emerged of Fitzpatrick than Sandusky.
Twenty alleged Fitzpatrick abuse victims - 20! - are now seeking a whopping total of $100 million from the Red Sox - $100 million! -  claiming Fitzpatrick made Fenway Park his personal playpen for abusing teenaged and pre-teen boys.

This comes on the heels of decades of other accusations, the guilty plea in 2002, and two payouts from the Red Sox to at least eight victims thus far.
Huge news, eh?
So then, where are the news stories? Where are the columns and commentary? The investigations and legal analyses? The outrage?
Google searches of several prominent Boston-oriented sportswriters -- Bob Ryan, Jackie MacMullan, Peter Gammons, Dan Shaughnessy and Bill Simmons -- yield virtually nothing about Fitzpatrick. Perhaps they did write about Fitzpatrick, but if so, it's very hard to find or happened very long ago.

But it's very easy to find, say, Ryan's and Shaughnessy's thoughts on the Sandusky scandal. And as silent as they are about Fitzpatrick and the Red Sox is how vicious they are toward Penn State.

(Ed. note: In an email exchange with Ryan, he indicated the length of time since Fitzpatrick's abuses occurred and since initial news reports were filed, along with the fact that Fitzpatrick is deceased, are the primary reasons the story is not stirring national media interest, despite the $100 million lawsuit and continuing emergence of victims: "Personal outrage against a living, breathing individual is understandable," Ryan wrote. "Raging against a corpse doesn't resonate as much.'' Ryan didn't specifically address raging against the Red Sox franchise that knowingly harbored and allegedly protected Fitzpatrick, as Passan later asserts in his story.)
A Google search of "ESPN Donald Fitzpatrick Red Sox" turned up very little. A search of "Sports Illustrated Donald Fitzpatrick Red Sox" produced even less - zilch.
What about the New York Times? CNN? Anyone?
Penn State graduate Tom Verducci has been a distinguished baseball writer for Sports Illustrated for nearly 20 years. He's also written about Sandusky for SI. Yet despite his stature as a senior baseball writer, he apparently has not written about Fitzpatrick, ever. Nor has anyone at SI. A search on of "Donald Fitzpatrick Red Sox" yielded five results, none of which actually even were about Donald Fitzpatrick.
If not for the detailed, compelling story by Passan on the Yahoo! blog "ThePostGame" linked above, which was picked up by a few other media outlets, (as well as occasional very brief update blurbs by the Boston Globe's website, local Boston TV stations and the AP each time new accusers are added to the lawsuit), Donald Fitzpatrick would be more of a phantom than he already is.
On - the nexus of sports news in America - a search of "Donald Fitzpatrick Red Sox" yields two results.
"Sandusky Penn State?" That will net you 975 results, and counting.
It's mind-boggling how under-reported the Donald Fitzpatrick/Boston Red Sox scandal has been.
And here's a sickening twist: Incredibly, seemingly everyone in the Red Sox organization during those years knew about Fitzpatrick molesting boys.

Google searching yielded some shocking (albeit long-since forgotten) AP stories from 2002, at the time of Fitzpatrick's conviction.
Many Red Sox players reportedly warned kids to stay away from Fitzpatrick, which obviously implies they knew about his behavior. Wade Boggs said he'd "heard things through the grapevine." And Fitzpatrick was very close with generations of Red Sox players such as Carl Yastrzemski and Ted Williams.
Wrote Passan: "(Red Sox) players for years had told young boys -- especially African-Americans -- to stay away from Fitzpatrick. Higher-ups in the organization tried to isolate him from any possible social setting. (Team owner) Jean Yawkey just wouldn't fire him."
Wow! Talk about your alleged cover-ups!
At Penn State, Freeh's notorious investigation interviewed more than 400 people connected to PSU, and not one of them alleged a cover-up.

400 people. None alleging a cover-up. Yet his conclusion was a cover-up. Go figure.
No one from Penn State has accused anyone of a cover-up (not yet, at least - the trials of former AD Tim Curley, VP Gary Schultz and President Graham Spanier are upcoming), but the Red Sox, according to Passan, knowingly protected Fitzpatrick's behavior for decades and later played dumb for prosecutors when he pled.
"Even as Fitzpatrick grew older and his tendencies to gravitate toward young boys became apparent, Yawkey protected him, according to two sources with knowledge of their relationship."
This is horrifying. Yet we've heard virtually nothing from ESPN, or just about anyone else, about Fitzpatrick or the Red Sox regarding this tragedy.
But Sandusky can't change laundry detergent without a breathless report from ESPN drama queens Jeremy Schaap or Mark Schwartz.
This very modestly sized story from Oct. 1, 2012 on the Boston Globe's website is the largest item found in 2012 updating the Fitzpatrick story, even as a whole new wave of alleged victims stepped forward.
Also, at least one Boston TV station filed a report in 2012 when the 20th accuser came forward.

But the story doesn't seem to go beyond Boston, much less even truly penetrate Boston, as evidenced by the incredibly low volume and depth of the stories, and the dearth of commentary from Boston's prominent voices.

On the contrary, whenever any Sandusky news broke, it was featured on SportsCenter and possibly the national nightly news, frequently immersed in a lot of loud, and often flat-out false, reporting and information.
The following was uncovered while digging a little deeper into Fitzpatrick. It is an excerpt from a much larger story actually about Sandusky by's Howard Bryant. It posted days after the Sandusky scandal broke. Like many Sandusky stories, Bryant presupposed guilt upon Joe Paterno, as well as Curley, Schultz and Spanier, legal system be damned. But he also betrayed knowledge of Fitzpatrick:
"For three decades, the Boston Red Sox employed a sexual predator who solicited sex from the young boys he would hire to work the clubhouse during spring training. It would become common knowledge that Donald Fitzpatrick was dangerous around children. One of his victims alleged that Red Sox players such as Jim Rice and Sammy Stewart would warn the clubhouse kids to avoid Fitzpatrick. When one of the kids confronted Red Sox management in 1971 with the charge that Fitzpatrick had engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior with them -- some as young as 4 years old -- in the Red Sox clubhouse and at the Holiday Inn where the team was housed during spring training, the Red Sox followed the Penn State template and more. Not only did the team fail to alert authorities or disassociate from Fitzpatrick but the Red Sox fired the victims who came forward."
Interesting. None of Sandusky's victims has alleged anyone at PSU knew anything. 

On the other hand, Jim Rice played for the Red Sox in the 1980s and is in the Hall of Fame. Was this an issue when he was being voted on for the HOF, or inducted, in 2009? And why not?
Tom Yawkey owned the Red Sox from 1933 until his death in 1976, when his wife Jean became owner. Tom Yawkey was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1980. According to Passan, Yawkey personally hired Fitzpatrick when he was a teenager and later knowingly protected Fitzpatrick's abuse for years.
The Red Sox fired anyone who came forward with abuse allegations. ... It would become common knowledge that Donald Fitzpatrick was dangerous around children. ...
How could the national media - CNN, ESPN, etc. - not have been all over this, whenever it was discovered?!?

And how could the national media not be following up on it today, with the Sox facing a $100 million lawsuit due to alleged protected sexual abuse in Fenway Park and other facilities!
It's the best-kept non-secret in sports.
What does the Red Sox brass have to say about all of this? Not much, and apparently never have. They just continue releasing a brief statement declaring Fitzpatrick's actions "abhorrent" and note that it all occurred under different ownership.
Where is Major League Baseball in all this? Who knows. While the NCAA tripped over itself to violate its bylaws and levy extreme sanctions on Penn State, without conducting its own investigation, or providing any semblance of due process, or waiting for the outcome of the criminal trials of Schultz, Curley and Spanier, there is no indication MLB has done anything with regard to the Red Sox.
And neither has the legal system. Apparently no Red Sox employees ever have been charged.
In March 2012, eight more victims came forward. Here was the full story about it on the Boston Globe's website,
"The worst sexual abuse scandal in Major League Baseball history has intensified, with eight more men alleging they were molested as youths by Donald J. Fitzpatrick, the former clubhouse manager of the Red Sox. The eight men, including two ex-batboys for the Baltimore Orioles, have come forward since two former Sox clubhouse attendants accused Fitzpatrick in December of sexually abusing them as teenagers at Fenway Park. The new allegations bring the number of men who have accused Fitzpatrick of molesting them to more than 20."
That's it, the whole story - three sentences.
Why don't we know all about this scandal? Why hasn't it been major, ongoing news?
What are the fundamental differences between Fitzpatrick/Red Sox and Sandusky/Second Mile/Penn State that may be causing the Boston media to way underplay it, and the national media to ignore it?
  1. The Pennsylvania Attorney General detonated the Sandusky scandal at the outset with an alert-the-media press conference, and also levied perjury and failure to report possible abuse charges against high-ranking PSU administrators, in addition to the dozens of charges against the perpetrator, Sandusky. This set the tone, as did the fact error/lie in the grand jury presentment, which falsely alleged Mike McQueary witnessed a rape and therefore helped incite the media wrath.
  2. Fitzpatrick was lower-profile than Sandusky, who had been a well-known assistant coach in the 1980s and '90s.
  3. Paterno: No one of his stature was linked to Fitzpatrick, though apparently prosecutors wanted to question Ted Williams - who actually has greater stature than Paterno - but he died.
  4. Mostly caucasian victims of Sandusky vs. mostly African-American victims of Fitzpatrick.
  5. A university setting vs. the "boys will be boys" major league clubhouse setting.
  6. The sudden unveiling of Sandusky's horrors vs. the slow escalation of the horrors in Boston. First it was one Fitzpatrick victim. Many years later it was another seven victims. Many years later it is another 20 victims. It was like death by a thousand cuts while Sandusky was a sledgehammer to the head.
  7. Fitzpatrick is dead. 
None of the above are legitimate, acceptable rationales for the underpublicizing of the Fitzpatrick/Red Sox scandal. But they are the primary differences between the two situations, and surely some of them explain the light-years difference in press coverage.
Otherwise, it's an extraordinary, sad mystery. The Red Sox allegedly knowingly harbored a child sex abuser for decades; victims are still emerging and suing the Red Sox for millions; and no one in the media cares.
What the heck is going on with the media, Donald Fitzpatrick and the Red Sox? 
Meanwhile, Sandusky Victim No. 4, through his attorney Benjamin D. Andreozzi, has said PSU football players were his friends and role models, and they didn't know what Sandusky was doing:
"He was particularly upset the (NCAA) sanctions ... impacted people who had absolutely nothing to do with the abuse," Andreozzi said. "The NCAA acted as if it were the victim in this tragedy."
One of my relatives moved to Boston to attend college nearly 30 years ago, and stayed. She has been a big Boston sports fan ever since, a semi-diehard, loves the Patriots and Red Sox in particular.
I texted her the other day: "Quick question: Do you know who Donald Fitzpatrick is?"
Twenty minutes later came a reply.
Imagine that.

For more insight, analysis and opinions about Penn State football, check RumblingsFromBeaverStadium.blogspot.comor follow Pete Young on Twitter @AllPSUfootball.


  1. It is very sad when a major league team has a pr department that can deep six this crime that was apparent to so many. Penn State let the whole story unfold and waited until last July to hire a pr firm. I guess spin in professional sports is much better than at Penn State. The scariest thought is that there are more pedophiles using sports to lure young boys and abusing them. Is it happening in all sports? Does everyone on certain teams know this is happening? When will people learn to get involved and save these young boys? It is truly sickening that this is allowed to go on for tens of years without it being reported to the police. All of the Boston Red Sox who knew about this should be ashamed. Warning the children, instead of calling the police, is something I hope that have on their consciences for many years to come. Those who knew and did not report enabled that pervert to abuse more and more children. This should be a headline making story. Instead it is buried in a three line item. What is society coming to?

  2. It's really hard to explain, and I'm really in need of more background information - i.e. what exactly did the local Boston media outlets report in 1991, 2002-03, etc, about this? And what about national baseball writers, why have they seemingly ignored it? While the sexual abuse happened a long time ago, the facts are no one has been held accountable in any way except for Fitzpatrick (sort-of), and that this whole matter is ONGOING. The $100 million lawsuit by 20 alleged victims is happening RIGHT NOW, with victims still coming forward, as best I can tell. I say "as best I can tell" because the media has been monitoring this so indifferently and mildly that it's possible the case was settled somehow in recent months and we don't even know it. And your point about how Penn State handled the Sandusky situation is well-taken. One of the biggest of the many mistakes, oversights and possibly corrupt behaviors by the PSU Board was doing absolutely nothing to look into the Sandusky matter as soon as it became known, in early 2011, that several very high ranking PSU employees were testifying for a grand jury. What could be the BOT's possible explanation for not having questioned every employee who went before the grand jury, and for not exhausting any/all contacts in the Attorney General's office, and being fully prepared for what happened in Nov. 2011, and perhaps even taken preemptive actions, so it would be clear PSU knew exactly what was going on and was in command of the situation? There is no reasonable rationale. Instead, the exact opposite happened, and PSU let the media and opportunistic individuals browbeat it into knee-jerk, disastrous decisions.

  3. We just heard a hero speak! Leronnie Ogletree . we are so sorry for your pain. may you find peace in your brave and positive journey. love and peace!