A Heckler's Apology to Hawaii's (not Japan's) Kurt Suzuki

Myles ValentinContributor IApril 20, 2009

Over the weekend, I sat in the overpriced "In The Action" seats at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, which placed me within three feet of the visiting team's on-deck circle.  Unfortunately, I abused the privilege of sitting so close to the game by making insensitive comments towards Oakland Athletics catcher Kurt Suzuki.

Using distance and my own mixed Asian ethnicity as an excuse, my taunts took on a Japanese theme. Every time he warmed up I called him "Fukudome" or "Ichiro" and even recommended several great sushi places in the downtown area (Ematei is great and is close the stadium).

Most of all, I questioned his Japanese patriotism by asking him why he used the name "Kurt" as opposed to a traditional Japanese name like "Hideki" or "Kristy."

Like a true professional, the Athletics catcher ignored me, but The Jays won that game in extra innings while Suzuki went 0-for-5.

That night, I went straight to the Google machine to find more personal information on Kurt in preparation for the next day of heckling.

To my amazement, I discovered that Kurt was not from Japan, but was actually born and raised in Hawaii. He won a College World Series at Cal Fullerton and speaks with a perfect American accent.

Suzuki did not deserve the treatment I gave him, especially coming from one of his own kind. It's hard enough having to play in a racially insensitive hotbed like Toronto. 

Embarrassed by my own ignorance, I gave away my expensive seats for Sunday's game.


So to Kurt Suzuki and all second-generation Asian-American athletes not named "Michelle Wie," my deepest apologies.

Next time I heckle you, I will be sure to use the correct stereotypes: instead of Sushi and Fukodome, I will yell out "Spam" and "John Cho."


Kurt Suzuki began his professional career playing rookie ball in Vancouver, B.C. (another racially insensitive Canadian town), where he was hit by a pitch 12 times, a team high.

The apologetic author is a Diet second-generation Asian-Canadian who has the privilege of sitting behind home plate and courtside at NBA games because of his somewhat insensitive blog post that was later published in a New York Times best-selling book. He does not condone racism of any kind.