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Elvis Ejection Has Cincinnati Talking

June 6, 1996

CINCINNATI (AP) _ The owner might be suspended? Sounds like old news.

The Cincinnati Reds are losing? Definitely old news.

Elvis has been ejected? Really? Why?

Even though the owner is facing suspension and the team is floundering in last place, it seemed that all fans and players wanted to talk about Wednesday was Elvis being banned from the broadcast booth.

``People are really upset,″ shortstop Barry Larkin said. ``It’s funny the things that get attention around here.″

The flap developed Tuesday evening when owner Marge Schott called the players into her office for a pep talk. The Reds were off to their worst start in 25 years, and Schott decided to give them a good-luck charm _ a stuffed gorilla named Slugger _ to change things around.

She also asked them what they thought about an Elvis bust and other memorabilia that broadcaster Marty Brennaman had assembled in the WLW-AM booth as a lighthearted distraction. The players suggested Elvis should go, so she sent word to remove the memorabilia.

Brennaman wasn’t amused.

``Elvis is the reason they’re off to their worst start in 25 years?″ Brennaman said, shortly after Elvis got the eviction order. ``That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard of.″

Brennaman mentioned it on the air Tuesday night, and the radio station got calls about it Wednesday. So did the Reds, who expected instead to be flooded with calls about Schott facing possible suspension at an executive council meeting in Philadelphia.

``We expected that would dominate the calls. The first couple of calls we got involved Elvis. We got a laugh out of that,″ said one employee, who asked to not be identified. ``As they day went on, they balanced out.″

Manager Ray Knight took his daughters to a golf course Wednesday morning and was surprised at the prevailing topic of conversation.

``I hear all the stuff about the Elvis deal today,″ Knight said. ``I was at the golf course and they said, `What’s this deal about Elvis?′ It’s all over the place.

``Last night, I heard around the batting cage that Elvis is gone. I had bigger things to worry about than whether Elvis is in the booth or not. And then I guess it became a big deal with everybody in the city and everywhere else.″

Players talked about it when they showed up for the game. They took exception to Brennaman’s characterization that they were blaming Elvis for their woes.

``Give me a break,″ catcher Joe Oliver said. ``He can’t take a joke.″

``How can anybody think that?″ Larkin said.

Larkin took Brennaman aside in the clubhouse. They had a friendly but animated discussion that ended without agreement.

``I’m hot about the principle of it,″ Brennaman said. ``A whole lot of fans thought it was a nice little diversion, which totally escaped a lot of people.″

Elvis was in evidence during the game Wednesday night. An Elvis impersonator in black roamed the stands, drawing scattered ovations, and a plane flew a banner that read: ``21-30! It’s Not My Fault! Elvis.″ When Reds pitcher Kevin Jarvis committed a throwing error in the first inning, a fan shouted: ``Blame it on Elvis!″

Knight marveled about the team’s latest distraction.

``That’s how crazy things have gotten,″ he said. ``It seems like everything lately in this city has been on extraneous deals. You think those guys care one way or the other if Elvis is in the booth or not? Or whether we have Larry or Smoker or Stoker or Slugger in the dugout?

``I’ll just be glad when the focus becomes baseball and just baseball. A lot of this stuff you say, `Man, how did we got on that?′ ″

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