Vahe Gregorian of the Kansas City Star reports that the Royals are considering signing Oregon State pitcher Luke Heimlich. In 2012, when he was 15 years old, Heimlich pleaded guilty to a felony charge of molesting his then-six-year-old niece. Viewed by many scouts as one of the most talented pitchers in college baseball, Heimlich went undrafted in the 2017 and 2018 drafts.
Heimlich has maintained his innocence despite pleading guilty. The victim’s mother said to The New York Times, “There is no way he didn’t do it,” describing her daughter’s details as “very specific.”
That a baseball team would be interested in Heimlich despite his past is not surprising. Teams look past all kinds of wretched off-field behavior as long as they get a player who can help them win. But the Royals’ interest, in particular, is perplexing since the team has gone out of its way to position itself as a moral bellwether. Last year, we learned that the Royals teach their players about the detrimental effects of drugs and alcohol, as well as pornography. GM Dayton Moore said, “[We’re] very transparent about things that happen in our game, not only with drugs and alcohol. We talk about pornography, and the effects of what that does to the minds of players and the distractions, and how that leads to abuse of — domestic abuse — to abuse of women. How it impacts relationships — we talk about a lot of things. And I don’t mind sharing with you.”
The Royals held an anti-porn seminar in March as well:
If you’re going to go around wagging your finger at people for perceived moral shortcomings, you had better walk the straight and narrow yourself. For the Royals to do this and then show interest in Heimlich calls into question their credibility both on a baseball level and on a social level.