Former major leaguer Chad Curtis under investigation for touching students

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Chad Curtis, who played 10 seasons in the majors before retiring in 2001, has been suspended from his volunteer high school position amid allegations that he inappropriately touched students.

Curtis, who denied the allegations, had been volunteering at Lakewood High School near Lake Odessa. He was slated to become the school’s head football coach this fall. He hasn’t been charged with a crime.

Curtis played for six big-league teams as a sometimes starter, sometimes fourth outfielder. He had his best run with the Yankees, hitting .263/.366/.400 with 27 homers in 340 games over three seasons. In 1999, he hit a walkoff homer to win Game 3 of the World Series for the Bombers. He also spent three seasons with the Angels, two with the Rangers and two with the Tigers.

While Curtis ended his career with a modest 101 homers and 461 RBI, he had a higher profile than many similar players, largely because of his willingness to express his Christian viewpoints. He also incited a modest controversy in the 1999 World Series when he refused to be interviewed by NBC’s Jim Gray. Gray had ruffled feathers earlier in the series by picking a poor time to go after Pete Rose about gambling accusations.

The Yankees stopped playing Kate Smith’s version of “God Bless America”

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The Yankees have played “God Bless America” during the seventh inning stretch since 9/11. The version they play is the most famous version, recorded in 1939 by Kate Smith. As of today they will no longer be playing the Kate Smith version, however.

Why? The New York Daily News reports that it’s because “the Yankees were made aware of Smith’s history of potential racism.” Which is a rather interesting way of putting it, because there’s not much “potential” to this:

Smith was a famous singer before and during WWII who recorded the offensive jingle, “Pickaninny Heaven,” which she directed at “colored children” who should fantasize about an amazing place with “great big watermelons,” among other treats. She shot a video for that song that takes place in an orphanage for black children, and much of the imagery is startlingly racist. She also recorded, “That’s Why Darkies Were Born,” which included the lyrics, “Someone had to pick the cotton. … That’s why darkies were born.”

I’m guessing this information was available in some Kate Smith biography or is in the memory of some of her big fans who may still be alive, but it was news to the Yankees until recently and once they learned it they decided that going with a version of the song NOT sung by Kate Smith was better. Good call!

Oh, and this was not the first time that the Yankees had to make this kind of call. Ten years ago they fired Irish tenor Ronan Tynan, who used to sing the song at the ballpark during the postseason, after he made anti-Semitic remarks. Precedent, baby.

Anyway, I’m sure someone will complain about this, but I feel like there are better hills to die on than “the Yankees should continue to play the racist lady’s version of the show tune that, despite what we think of it now, was never meant as an actual patriotic anthem.”

If you feel like dying on that hill, be my guest. But please, show your work.