SI Vault
Edited by Craig Neff
March 28, 1988
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March 28, 1988


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Did God intend women to be umpires? Not in the opinion of Houston Astro pitcher Bob Knepper, who said last week that Pam Postema (SI, March 14) has no business trying to become the major leagues' first female ump.

"This is not an occupation a woman should be in," said Knepper, a born-again Christian, after pitching five innings with Postema behind the plate in a 5-0 exhibition win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. "In God's society, woman was created in a role of submission to the husband. It's not that woman is inferior, but I don't believe women should be in a leadership role." Knepper said he would exclude women from such careers as umpiring, sportswriting—he refuses to grant interviews anytime a woman reporter is in the locker room—and serving in high government office.

Knepper is entitled to the free expression of his beliefs, but we're equally free to call them patronizing and offensive. If he had made the same remarks about blacks, he would have been rightly condemned as a racist—yet would his message have been any more bigoted? It was heartening to hear other big leaguers, including other Astros, distance themselves from Knepper's narrow-minded view. They seem to feel that Postema, who's competing for one of the two openings on the National League umpiring staff, should be judged on her abilities. And that's how it should be. Even Knepper said, after watching Postema call his pitches for five innings, "She did a great job back there today."


If Knepper's comments last week were disturbing, WBC middleweight champ Thomas Hearns's were downright irrational. At a press conference announcing his June 6 fight with Iran Barkley, Hearns not only called himself "the best fighter who ever lived" but also labeled Marvelous Marvin Hagler "a has-been" and Sugar Ray Leonard "overrated."

"If Leonard and Hagler were here today, I would walk up to them and slap them in the face," said the Motown Motor Mouth. "They deserve to be hit as if they were women—to make them think, 'Am I a man or a woman?' If they are men, they don't fight like men."

Come again, Thomas? They deserve to be hit as if they were women? To a civilized person, that means not at all. And by the way: Didn't the unmanly Leonard take you out in 14 rounds in Las Vegas back in 1981? Didn't that sissy Hagler put you on the canvas in three rounds in Vegas in '85?


"They're coming around the final buoy now, and Pablo Morales of the U.S. is out in front. But here comes Michael Gross of West Germany on the outside. He's closing fast down the homestretch. They're stroking side by side now. Morales, Gross, it's... Gross."

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