By Kevin Wilson: Freedom Newspapers
When tragedy comes along, it serves nobody well unless a valuable lesson is taught.
If that’s the case, it’s tough to admit what’s become of the car crash that killed St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock.
Hancock was killed the morning of April 29 when he left a sports bar in a rented SUV and hit the back of a tow truck on a St. Louis highway. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, an investigation showed Hancock’s blood alcohol was more than twice the state’s legal amount.
One month later, Hancock’s death seems to be an empty tragedy. Instead of honoring Hancock’s life and warning Major League Baseball fans of the dangers of drunk driving, all parties involved are taking overreaching measures to take away freedoms and push individual responsibility to the side.
In the days following Hancock’s death, many major league clubs (including the Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs) took steps to ban alcohol in the clubhouse and on team flights.
I understand the concern for safety, but taking away privileges in reaction to what a lone person did is never right. I don’t drink, but I’d hate the idea of not being able to buy a beer because somebody who works in my building was arrested for DUI. It’s especially hypocritical coming from baseball, a sport that attracts crowds with cheap beer promotions and has a ballclub named the Milwaukee Brewers. Players are indirectly paid to promote beer, but they can’t have one?
The other reaction to Hancock’s death doesn’t anger me — it just disappoints me. Hancock’s family has filed a lawsuit against the restaurant that served drinks, the company that owns the tow truck, the tow truck driver and the guy whose car broke down and made the tow truck necessary.
Maybe in another case, this would be a good use of litigation. But not if we assume the police investigation was correct. In addition to being legally drunk, police said Hancock was driving about 15 miles over the speed limit and was talking on his cell phone. That would be enough distraction to make a driver miss the warning lights from the tow truck, right? (Marijuana was also found in the SUV, police said, but no marijuana was detected in Hancock’s system.)
The suit said the bar knowingly served Hancock after he was intoxicated. Bar workers told the Post-Dispatch they offered to contact a cab for Hancock, but he said he was only three blocks from his destination.
There are plenty of reasons to feel sympathy for Hancock’s family, but empathy is impossible when the family and its lawyers tell us the person who drove drunk, sped and talked on his cellular phone is less responsible than a guy whose car broke down.
We have tragedy, and we certainly have a reaction to tragedy. However, we’ve learned nothing except that a big business like Major League Baseball and a small family like the Hancocks haven’t learned the right lesson.
Pray for them both.
Kevin Wilson is a columnist for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. Contact him at