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Wednesday, January 12
Updated: January 26, 10:45 AM ET
Apologetic Rocker says he lost his cool

Associated Press

John Rocker admitted in an ESPN interview that aired Wednesday that his comments about minorities and homosexuals in a magazine article made him sound like "a complete jerk."

The Rocker files
In an exclusive interview with ESPN's Peter Gammons, John Rocker goes public: Real Video

1993: Drafted by Atlanta in the 18th round out of high school in Macon, Ga.

1994-97: Pitched four mediocre seasons as a starter in the minor leagues, going 22-28 with a 4.18 ERA.

1998: Converted to a reliever at Triple-A, was called up to the Braves in May. He pitched in 47 games and went 1-3 with a 2.18 ERA. Appeared in all six games of NLCS vs. Padres and didn't allow a run.

1999: When closer Kerry Ligtenberg was injured in spring training, Rocker became the closer and went 4-5 with 38 saves and a 2.49 ERA. Fanned 104 hitters in 72.1 innings.

1999 postseason: Rocker again appears in all six games of the NLCS, picking up two saves. He also gets into it with Mets fans, spitting at them and giving them the finger. Mets fans don't back down.

December 1999: In a Sports Illustrated article, Rocker gives his opinion on various subjects; most of them could be called politically incorrect.

In his first interview since the uproar, the 25-year-old relief pitcher spoke to ESPN at his home in Macon, and again apologized, repeating that he is not a racist.

He pointed out that teammates Andruw Jones, Bruce Chen and Odalis Perez -- all minorities from outside the United States -- lived with his family in Macon while they were playing for the Braves minor-league affiliate there.

"If I was a racist, would I want a black guy living in my house and would I invite him to come to my house? I did that three times over," Rocker said.

Other than a brief written statement, the interview marked the first time Rocker spoke publicly about the controversy.

Rocker said he "just lost (his) cool" and said things he didn't mean about New York fans because he wanted "to inflict some emotional pain in retaliation to the pain that had been inflicted on me."

Rocker said he was frustrated by New York Yankees' fans who threw batteries at him during the World Series. He said Mets' fans spit in his face, poured beer on him and beat a likeness of him during the NL Championship Series.

"I'll reiterate again and apologize one more time to anybody I've offended," Rocker said. "It certainly was not my intent."

In the Sports Illustrated interview, Rocker said he would never play for a New York team because he didn't want to ride a train "next to some queer with AIDS." He also bashed immigrants, saying "I'm not a very big fan of foreigners. ... How the hell did they get in this country?"

While driving in Atlanta during the interview, Rocker spit on a toll machine and mocked Asian women.

Rocker was asked what he would think if someone else made similar comments.

"I'd think he was a complete jerk," he said. "Who the heck does this guy think he is mouthing off like this? What kind of experiences does he have to talk from?"

Rocker said the reaction to his remarks already has forced his family to change its phone number twice. He has hidden in the back of a van to avoid photographers and TV cameras outside his home.

He also thinks his life eventually will return to normal.

"You hit one home run in the big leagues, it doesn't make you a home-run hitter," Rocker said. "To make one comment like this doesn't make you a racist."

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