University of Cincinnati removes name of ex-Reds owner from baseball stadium over racist comments
The University of Cincinnati on Tuesday announced that it will remove the name of late Cincinnati Reds owner and philanthropist Marge Schott from the university’s baseball stadium over her record of racist language and comments praising Adolf Hitler.
The university’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously to remove Schott’s name from the stadium and a second space in the archives library effective immediately, according to a statement.
“Marge Schott’s record of racism and bigotry stands at stark odds with our University’s core commitment to dignity, equity and inclusion,” University President Neville Pinto said. “My recommendation to the board to remove her name is grounded in the firm belief that speaking out against exclusion is as essential as speaking up for inclusion. I hope this action serves as an enduring reminder that we cannot remain silent or indifferent when it comes to prejudice, hate or inequity. More than ever, our world needs us to convert our values into real and lasting action.”
The move comes amid a national conversation about racial injustice as protests have erupted nationwide following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in Minneapolis police custody after a police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes.
Jordan Ramey, a former UC baseball player, started a petition earlier this month to have the stadium renamed. It has gathered nearly 10,000 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon.
Ramey, who is Black, told The Associated Press that he learned about Schott’s history of racist comments from his father while growing up in Cincinnati.
“All our leaders need to have that kind of vision, that kind of outlook, especially with the history we have,” Ramey said. “Our leaders need to acknowledge our history and accept our history and take ownership of our history. That’s the only way we can move forward.”
The city of Cincinnati has been grappling for years with how to revisit Schott’s history.
She ran a car dealership before buying a controlling interest in the Reds in 1984, and quickly became one of the league’s most visible and controversial owners.
Employees of the team said she used slurs for Black players and made derogatory remarks about Jews and Japanese people. She also praised Hitler as being “good at the beginning” but then “went too far.”
The MLB banned Schott from her team’s day-to-day operations in 1993, the AP reported. The league levied another suspension after she returned and continued to make offensive remarks and she ultimately was forced to sell her controlling interest in the team in 1999.
After her death in 2004, most of her estate reportedly went to a foundation that funded several philanthropic ventures. Her name is on several facilities around town, including at the Cincinnati Zoo.
The University of Cincinnati stadium was built in 2006 following a $2 million donation from the Marge & Charles J. Schott Foundation, which encouraged conversations around the naming rights.
“While we cannot make excuses for the rhetoric made by Mrs. Schott decades ago, we can ask you to learn from Mrs. Schott’s mistakes as well as her great love for Cincinnati,” the foundation said in a statement this month. “We appreciate what these great organizations bring to Cincinnati and we fully support the decisions made by the organizations who have received grants from the Foundation.”
Saint Ursula Academy, a Catholic all-girls high school, announced earlier this month that it would remove Schott’s name from a science, language and arts building that was constructed with a donation. It also is renaming its athletic facility, which was called “Schottzie Stadium” in honor of Schott’s dog.