Yankee fans will remember the incident where a Manhattan real estate broker charged that he made an anti-semetic remark while showing his apartment back in October. New York Magazine has done a follow-up piece on the banished Yankee tenor, which details his side of the story. It follows:
The once-beloved Irish tenor, most famous for his rousing (and lengthy) renditions of “God Bless America” during the seventh-inning stretch of Yankees postseason games throughout the 00′s, watched his reputation fall apart after being accused of making a “Jewish joke” to a woman in his Upper West Side building the day before. That day, the tabloids screamed of “tenor’s anti-Semitic slur” and blasted Tynan’s supposed “burst of bigotry.” The Yankees canceled his appearance at that night’s Game 1 of the ALCS against the Angels, and Tynan found his career in shambles. “No one ever called to get my side of the story,” Tynan now says in his first public comments since the controversy exploded. “Everyone ran with it and just printed horrible, horrible stuff.”
Tynan, who moves around slowly but fluidly after having both his legs amputated at the age of 20 (he’s a former Paralympic champion), still can’t quite comprehend what happened. Here’s how he tells it: Three weeks earlier, two older Jewish women were looking at an apartment on his floor. They were fussy, and clearly not ecstatic about living down the hall from someone singing loudly all the time. The Realtor, a friend of Tynan’s, joked with him that they had “very particular needs” and clearly weren’t going to take the place. Three weeks later, on October 15, a different Realtor was showing a different woman, Gabrielle Gold-von Simson, a doctor at NYC Medical Center, the same apartment. That Realtor, knowing Tynan from Yankees games, saw him and said, of the Simson family, “at least they’re not Red Sox fans.”
Accounts differ from there. Simson claims Tynan said, “I don’t care about that, as long as they are not Jewish.” Tynan claims he said something more to the effect of “at least they weren’t those Jewish ladies,” apparently mixing up his Realtors. Simson asked him what he meant by that, and he, not quite understanding that she was offended, laughed and said, “Well, that would be scary.” That was the end of it.
Five hours later, Tynan received a call from Yankees president Randy Levine, saying Simson had called the Yankees and various media outlets to claim the Irish tenor had made an anti-Semitic remark and demanding he apologize. A three-minute phone call with Simson, in which he apologized and promised to make a donation to the Kids of New York, ensued, and Tynan thought that was it. “I called her and I said, ‘My name is Ronan Tynan and I believe we had a very brief encounter where I believe my humor didn’t go down with you,’” he says. “I explained every single thing again about my encounter, and she said, ‘I accept your apology.’ That was it, it was very straightforward.”
An hour later, a reporter from NBC was in his apartment, asking him if he had any Jewish friends. The next day, the papers had a hold of the story, and his Yankees career was over.
While I personally never loved his rendition of “God Bless America” (which I found sappy) and therefore don’t exactly miss him at the ballpark, his explanation strikes me as credible. If he was referring to two specific ladies, whose names he didn’t know and only knew only as the ‘Jewish’ women who looked at his apartment, you could see how a poorly worded statement would be misconstrued. Assuming that’s the case, the part that bothers me the most in his account is that none of the so-called ‘Journalists’ who ran with this report ever bothered to get his side of the story. The all too common ‘hit and run’ reporting that destroys people’s lives and reputations without bothering to do any cross-checking. It’s Journalism 101 that you get both sides of any story, and let the readers decide for themselves who’s right or who’s wrong. But according to him (and so many others) that never happened in his case.
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