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Some Ready to Forgive Rocker

July 1, 2000

NEW YORK (AP) _ Maybe it was John Rocker’s contrition, or maybe the heavy police presence surrounding him, but some New Yorkers seem ready to forgive their major league menace.

``He’s an excellent pitcher. He’s just got the wrong attitude,″ said 12-year-old Josh Chaplain, of Great Neck, N.Y., as he awaited the first pitch between the Mets and Braves at Shea Stadium on Friday night.

``If he just cleans up his act and apologizes and not come back and say something else, New York will forgive him.″

Before the second game of the Mets’ four-game series against Atlanta, Rocker emerged from a door behind left field and headed toward the stands to sign a few baseballs.

As he came closer, eager fans tossed baseballs, T-shirts and at least one glove for him to sign. The barrage prompted Rocker to walk away, surrounded by police.

And even then, nobody blamed him.

``He was trying to be cordial, but he was getting bombarded and so he walked off,″ said Seth Ott, one of the fans nearby.

Eddie Samradli, speaking with his 9-year-old son Jonathan looking on, said he didn’t really wish Rocker any harm.

``He apologized yesterday and people in New York are better than him, so they’ll forgive him,″ Samradli said.

And Anthony Brown, 27, of Jersey City, N.J., simply compared Rocker to the Indiana Pacers’ talkative star, Reggie Miller.

``I don’t hate the guy,″ he said. ``He’s a professional.″

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