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After His Former Coach Is Suspended For Sexual Assault, Baseball Player Speaks Up About Abuse
After His Former Coach Is Suspended For Sexual Assault,
Baseball Player Speaks Up About Abuse
BY LINDSAY GIBBS
February 24, 2016 10:29 AM
A shorter URL for the above link:
Last Friday night, Pat Smith, a former semi-pro baseball player, was out to dinner with his family. Suddenly, his phone lit up with messages from friends and former teammates, many of whom he hadnt spoken to in years, telling him to turn on CBC News at 11:00.
Dan Bleiwas, the coach of the Ontario Blue Jays, an elite youth baseball team in Canada that Smith had played on 15 years ago, had been suspended from the team following allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct from a former player.
When Smith heard the news, he was immediately reminded of his time on the team a time that he told ThinkProgress turned him into a dark, different person because of how much I was holding in.
Smith wasnt sexually abused by Bleiwas, but certainly recalls an environment filled with mistreatment that was actively encouraged by the coach. Based on the timeline presented by CBC, he knew it was possible that the player who made the allegations was a former teammate of his, and he instantly felt compelled to reach out to that victim, and to anyone else who had been subjected to similar abuse. And so, the next morning he decided to make a Facebook video.
This is the toughest video Ive ever had to make, he opens. It was important for me to put my face to this, in support of players at the Ontario Blue Jays, present and past.
In the video, Smith talks candidly about the culture of abuse he experienced on the team. Players pissed in their teammates water bottles. Coaches verbally harassed players who were overweight Why dont you kill yourself, fat fuck? and during one out of town trip, Smith returned to his hotel room to find out that his teammates had broken in and jerked off into his clothes. Bleiwas had given them access to the room.
Back then, Smith didnt talk about the abuse because the Blue Jays were an elite program that was regularly scouted by MLB teams and NCAA coaches, and he was hesitant to rock the boat. He was also ashamed, carrying the attitude that, Im 64?, 220 pounds, a clean-up hitter. Im not anyones bitch, and damn if Im going to talk about that, certainly not at 17 years old. But now Smith can recognize the years of darkness and mistrust he experienced as a result of that environment.
So Smith encouraged players who are currently experiencing abuse to reach out to him and others in the baseball community:
I want any players who are seeing this to know, if you had a tough time, we as a baseball community are here for you. All of the alumni are here for you Nobody is going to think that youre weak or think any less of you because your were a victim of something awful. I encourage you to come forward. reach out to me, reach out to any of your teammates, were here for you, well talk to you, well hug you, well hold your hand; theres no room for physical, mental, sexual abuse in life, let alone in a culture where you have somebody who seems to be holding the key to your future, a future that you want so bad.
Smith assumed that just a few people in his Facebook network would watch the video maybe 50, 100 people. But since he posted it on Saturday, the video has been viewed over 60,000 times. And the response has been overwhelming. His inbox has been flooded with messages, with hundreds of former teammates and strangers alike sharing horrific tales of abuse in youth sports.
The complete article may be read at the URL above.
Elite Canadian baseball program suspends coach over allegations of ‘inappropriate sexual behaviour’
Ontario Blue Jays say allegations against Dan Bleiwas date back to 2001
Posted: Feb 19, 2016 6:43 PM ET
Last Updated: Feb 19, 2016 7:24 PM ET
An elite Canadian amateur baseball program has indefinitely suspended its director of baseball operations following allegations of “inappropriate sexual behaviour” by a former player.
In a statement emailed to CBC News on Friday, the Ontario Blue Jays said they had contacted Peel Regional Police on Feb. 12 “after hearing allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour involving a coach, Dan Bleiwas, and a player that took place approximately 15 years ago.”
Bleiwas has been suspended indefinitely and instructed to avoid all contact with coaches, players and their families, said Sean Travers, the organization’s director of player development.
In Friday’s statement, Travers said that although “the alleged abuse occurred 15 years ago, we would like other potential victims to know that they will be supported in coming forward.”
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