The baseball Hall of Fame has a new headache--Steve Carlton, whose reported remarks on the "Elders of Zion" have angered Jewish groups who want the pitcher barred from the Hall.
Carlton, who spent most of his years in baseball without speaking to the media, denies making the comments.
"We have a long way to go until induction, and hopefully he will apologize or clarify his remarks," Ed Stack, the Hall of Fame's president, said Wednesday. "He's elected and he's going to be inducted."
The pitcher set off the controversy with an interview printed in Philadelphia Magazine in which writer Pat Jordan quotes him as saying the "Elders of Zion," 12 Jewish bankers in Switzerland, rule the world.
That led the American Jewish Congress in New York to ask that Carlton, elected to the Hall last January, be barred from induction until he apologizes. Carlton is scheduled to enter the shrine in Cooperstown, N.Y., on July 31.
Carlton released a one-page statement through his former team, the Philadelphia Phillies, and to reporters in his hometown of Durango, Colo.
"The article has almost no truth in it," Carlton said. "I reject it completely. It is wrong about my baseball career, my personal beliefs, my family life and my new hometown. I specifically deny saying anything that could be interpreted as offensive to Jewish people. I stand on my long record of treating all teammates and opponents with the same respect, be they Jewish, black or white."
Carlton suggested that Jordan, while breathing the thin air in Durango, "became so disoriented that he lost his grasp on truth and decency."
Jordan, a free-lance writer and former contributor to Sports Illustrated, stood by his story.
"I went there and I wrote what he said and I don't care what he says," Jordan said from his home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "I didn't invent this stuff.
"I don't think Steve is a racist or an anti-Semite or anything like that. I think he's read too many books. Steve is one of the most fearful human beings I ever met."