Youth Baseball League President Resigns After Racial Facebook Faux Pas
Accusations of racism cause embattled Westside League board president to resign.
The president of a youth baseball league who used a racial slur to describe the late singer Whitney Houston on his personal Facebook page has resigned from the league’s board as of Sunday.
John T. Kelly was suspended as president of Westside Baseball of Oak Lawn after a special board meeting last week. Kelly had agreed to step down from the board temporarily until he was able to complete a sensitivity training course. Kelly also agreed to pay for the course himself. He described it as "self-punishment."
The action was taken after a black parent complained about the racist comment that Kelly had made on Facebook, in which he referred to the late singer as a “n---er” after she was found dead in the bathtub in her Beverly Hills hotel room on February 11. Houston was in town to attend the Grammy Awards.
The parent who complained about the Facebook comment is black. Kelly, the former league president, is white.
Kelly said he made the comment because he thought that the news media was glorifying the late singer while ignoring her public battles with drug addiction. The story—which broke on Oak Lawn Patch on Feb. 21 -- drew worldwide attention.
News of Kelly’s resignation was posted to Westside’s website Sunday evening, which said: “Effective immediately, our former President, who was relieved of his duties on Monday, February 20th, 2012, has resigned from the Westside Board.”
Jim Hebel, who became acting president on Monday, was appointed president of the league. He said that Kelly, who fully admitted to making the comment, was sorry for making the comment.
“We really just want to move forward,” Hebel said.
Asked if the league board planned to develop a code of conduct for board members, including a social media policy, Hebel replied:
“Anything and everything from this day forward we’re trying to make our league better,” he said. “You’re asking me to predict what we'll do. All I’m worried about is getting the season underway.”
“I just want to focus on baseball,” Hebel said.
Reached by phone Sunday evening, Kelly said that his family has been getting death threats since the story broke.
"I hope you’re happy. We've had to file police reports over something that you turned into worldwide event," Kelly said. "Over a [explective deleted] stupid comment I made in jest on my private Facebook page.
Asked if he was sorry for using the racial slur, Kelly said:
"Are you sorry for something you did? That's my comment."
The parent who complained about the Facebook post could not immediately be reached for comment.