A few weeks ago, I wrote a story about Luke Heimlich, the MLB prospect who went undrafted in this year and last year’s drafts. The reason he went undrafted? In 2015, the then-15-year-old pled guilty to molesting his 6-year-old niece. He was required to register as a sex offender, among other punishments. And then he went on to become a star pitcher at Oregon State.
At the time, I applauded MLB for doing the right thing. Or rather, the bare minimum of not signing guys who molest little kids. We have to set the bar for bad behavior somewhere, right? That’s about as low-bar as it gets, but it’s something.
Today, I’m disappointed to report that the last-place, 23-54, 20.5-games-out-of-first Kansas City Royals are considering signing Heimlich. Anything to win, right?
First of all, I have a logistical question: how can a registered sex offender play in ballparks filled with children? Will the PA announcer at each ballpark have to announce his presence at the beginning of each game: “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to Kauffman Stadium for a day of Royals baseball! Oh, and by the way, we’re legally required to inform you that you will be watching a registered sex offender take the mound today to pitch for our home team! Play ball!”
But more to the point: if the Royals want to position themselves as the paragon of morality in baseball, holding seminars on the detrimental effects of drugs, alcohol, and porn, they can’t then pull a 180 and sign a guy who pled guilty to sexually assaulting a child. Between the detention camps for immigrant kids masquerading as “tender age shelters” in the South and stories like this, America is doing a great job taking care of its children lately.
To those who say that he deserves rehabilitation or even a second chance, I say that I’m inclined to agree. Partially. But a second chance and fame and fortune are two very different things. Should Luke Heimlich be allowed to hold a job? Sure. become a face on a baseball card, or a potential All-Star? No. He pled guilty to one of the most heinous crimes in existence. And then tried to deny it years later ahead of the MLB draft.
GM Dayton Moore said, “we continue to seek information that allows us to be comfortable in pursuing Luke.” Comfortable? Imagine how uncomfortable it would be for his victim, and any victim of child abuse to see him on national tv. According to the Crimes Against Children Research Center, 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse. In a ballpark of thousands, that’s more than too many possible victims. Even one victim is too many.
The Royals want to be a winning team; it’s pathetically transparent. The whole situation reeks of hypocrisy and desperation to win, and it’s a bad look for a team that already looks bad enough just by playing baseball as poorly as they do. If they do sign him, the rest of MLB should refuse to play them on moral grounds.