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Former Padre Dirk Hayhurst exposes rape culture in baseball


Dirk Hayhurst promised yesterday that his latest article would light the world afire.

Which turned out to be a weird way to promote his new article about ballplayers trying to prove their manhood in the minor and major league systems with sexual exploits and eventually rape.  He uses examples from the Padres minor league teams since that's where he spent most of his career.

The majority of the article describes players' sexual conquests, their infidelities and their need to publicize their exploits to their teammates.  When intercourse wasn't enough they would secretly tape their rendezvous or let their teammates watch from neighboring hotel rooms.  Crude acts to be sure, but as far as I know not illegal.  Actually taping without consent might be but it's not something I can Google search at work.

Towards the end of the article things become gravely serious, he accuses his teammates of rape.  They play a game called "Running the Train".  Simply put a woman is "the tunnel" and each player's manhood is "a train".  The idea of the "game" is to see how many different trains can pass through the tunnel.  In the darkness of the room, the player excuses himself and is replaced by another teammate presumably without the woman's knowledge.

A first-hand account of masculine sports culture run amok. | : Dirk Hayhurst Article

There is, of course, another name for "Running the Train": rape. The women most likely didn't know what was happening and could not have consented to it. Perhaps they were too afraid to object once they realized. When the subject came up, however, the guys on the team had a different explanation: "They wanted it, man. Besides, we joked about it before we brought them back to the hotel. You know, made them feel like it was their idea. Besides, chicks love ballplayers!"

"Aren't you worried that this is going to come back to bite you in the ass?" I asked, after the latest recounting of the "train schedule."

"Why? You gonna tell?"

"No, I guess not. But, you know, it seems wrong."

"Don't hate on other players' good time, man. That's part of being a good teammate. As long as you don't do that, nothing bad is going to happen."

This article bothers me due to the sickening culture and the apparent crime but also because of the decade of silence on Hayhurt's part.  I'm not alone.

Even now he protects his teammates he has just accused of rape by changing their names.  A Twitter follower asked him about his decision to do so:

Personally I'm glad that Hayhurst wrote the article to shine a light on the topic but I question whether he has really accepted the part he played.  It seems that just about everybody that reads it condemns the activity described, which is good.  But I'm surprised that he's not at least conflicted by his now familiar role as a bystander.  I think I'd look back upon my part in it with a guilty conscience, if I were him.

It's hard to say what any of us would do in his place, as we sit here at a safe distance.  Would you stop your friends/teammates or report them when you knew what they were doing was wrong?  Most of us would like to think we would.

I guess we can consider ourselves fortunate that we haven't been tested by being put in this situation with the assumed moral responsibility to act.  But you might also say that the women in these stories are unfortunate that someone else wasn't there that would have acted on their behalf.


Not all players are created equal | The diamond's best friend

I don’t want to downplay the seriousness of the accusations, but what I also find to be terrible is that the article reads as though all of Hayhurst’s teammates took part in these activities. He threw an entire roster of Eugene Emeralds under the bus, making it sound like he was the only one who didn’t partake and had any moral dilemma with the aforementioned activities.


Hayhurst says he didn't come forward at the time to report the rape because he feared being fired.


The woman with whom Hayhurst was tweeting in the above conversation is A's reliever Sean Doolittle girlfriend and a rape victim herself.  She deleted her side of the Twitter conversation, a decision she says she regrets, but she wrote a long thoughtful response that is worth reading.

Sorry Dirk Hayhurst, Your Tell-All Says Just As Much About You As It Does Your Teammates | Thought Catalog

It makes me very sad to think there could be another person like me out there who had someone witness their trauma and who stood silent.


Foul Territory ·

I truly believe that he had the same intentions when he divulged the sexual abuse and exploitation of women in the minor leagues, but instead the piece sits as reminder that women are rendered as objects without agency by a variety of sports narratives, including Hayhurst’s personal one. A more critical view would suggest his is another case of men appropriating rape victims’ stories for the sake of securing their own heroic narratives.


And here's Dirk Hayhurst's Twitter responses concatenated by Hardball Talk.

Dirk Hayhurst’s story of sexual abuse and debauchery in the minors has caused some blowback | HardballTalk

Back in 2003, I was afraid to lose my job, nuke teammates with things that would be denied and near impossible to prove…I wasn’t the writer I am now. I was young and stupid and naive enough to believe baseball policed itself…The rule was never speak of team behavior outside the locker room, no matter how bad. if you did and caused drama you’d get cut, or worse…You’d get branded (ask Bouton) and subject to every form of frontier justice the game had… beaten and beaned for breaking the code . . .I didn’t write that SoE piece to accuse anyone but myself. It’s not an attack or an apology. It’s a recounting… an admission of what was . . . It’s an expose’ of baseball’s code of silence on sexist behavior, which I was a part of just as much as anyone else, and I own that…So, yes, I realize I look awful. Some think I’m a coward for speaking late. Some think I’m a rat for speaking at all…I realize how bad I look, but the truth isn’t always convenient for those who tell it. If it was, more of it would be told. Thank for reading my stuff, your support, and for putting up with this long thread of tweets invading your feed.