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Thursday, April 10
Updated: April 17, 1:11 PM ET
Hall of Fame cancels movie gala over stars' remarks

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- The Hall of Fame president, a former official in the Reagan administration, canceled a 15th anniversary celebration of "Bull Durham" because of anti-war criticism by co-stars Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon.

Wed., April 9
Wednesday morning, I watched a documentary about the Smothers Brothers' fights with CBS censors in the late 1960s.

Wednesday afternoon, I learned that Dale Petroskey won't allow the hallowed Hall to be sullied by the presence of political dissent.

And I'm saddened to learn just how far we haven't come in 35 years.

This isn't censorship, by its most technical definition. But you know, there are various forms of censorship. Here, the message is that if you say anything deemed offensive by the powers that be -- Petroskey, by the way, spent many years working for Republican politicians -- you will be disciplined. And if that's not censorship, whatever it is ain't pretty.

Let freedom ring.

Dale Petroskey sent a letter to Robbins and Sarandon this week, telling them the festivities April 26-27 at Cooperstown, N.Y., had been called off.

Recent comments by the actors "ultimately could put our troops in even more danger," said Petroskey, a former White House assistant press secretary under President Reagan.

Reached Wednesday night, Robbins said he was "dismayed" by the decision. He responded with a letter he planned to send to Petroskey, telling him: "You belong with the cowards and ideologues in a hall of infamy and shame."

The weekend affair, planned months ago, also was to feature "Bull Durham" actor Robert Wuhl and writer-director Ron Shelton.

Robbins plays an up-and-coming minor league pitcher in the 1988 film and Sarandon plays a fan who helps him focus his erratic talent. Kevin Costner also stars.

Instead of commemorating the movie, the Hall canceled the celebration in a letter sent Tuesday to the scheduled participants.

"In a free country such as ours, every American has the right to his or her own opinions, and to express them. Public figures, such as you, have platforms much larger than the average American's, which provides you an extraordinary opportunity to have your views heard -- and an equally large obligation to act and speak responsibly," Petroskey wrote.

"We believe your very public criticism of President Bush at this important -- and sensitive -- time in our nation's history helps undermine the U.S. position, which ultimately could put our troops in even more danger. As an institution, we stand behind our President and our troops in this conflict."

Robbins and Sarandon, his longtime partner, have been active in peace rallies to protest the war in Iraq.

In his letter, Robbins said he'd been looking forward to "a weekend away from politics and war." He said he remained "skeptical" of the war plans and told Petroskey he did not realize baseball was "a Republican sport."

"I am sorry that you have chosen to use baseball and your position at the Hall of Fame to make a political statement," Robbins wrote. "I know there are many baseball fans that disagree with you, and even more that will react with disgust to realize baseball is being politicized.

"To suggest that my criticism of the President put the troops in danger is absurd. ... I wish you had, in your letter, saved me the rhetoric and talked honestly about your ties to the Bush and Reagan administrations."

Robbins signed his letter with a reference to an old World Series champion: "Long live democracy, free speech and the '69 Mets -- all improbable, glorious miracles that I have always believed in."

 More from ESPN...

 Politics and Sports
Tim Robbins comments on the decision to cancel the 15th anniversary celebration of "Bull Durham."
Standard | Cable Modem

 The Dan Patrick Show
Actor Tim Robbins says a "Bull Durham" reunion at Cooperstown was cancelled because of the anti-war sentiments of cast members.

 Boys of bummer
GameNight: Author Roger Kahn condemns the decision to cancel a "Bull Durham" reunion.

 Creating an issue
GameNight: Baseball Hall of Fame president Dale Petroskey says he should have called Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon first before canceling a "Bull Durham" reunion.

 Shrine quest
GameNight: Ron Shelton, who wrote and directed "Bull Durham," still hopes to get to Cooperstown for a reunion.

 The Dan Patrick Show
Actor Kevin Costner reacts to a Bull Durham reunion at Cooperstown being cancelled because of the anti-war sentiments of cast members.

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