Cincy Reds Owner Marge Schott Dies at 75
By JOE KAY
The Associated Press
Tuesday, March 2, 2004; 4:58 PM
CINCINNATI - Marge Schott, the tough-talking, chain-smoking owner of the Cincinnati Reds who won a World Series but was repeatedly suspended for offensive remarks, died Tuesday, a hospital spokeswoman said. She was 75.
Schott was hospitalized about three weeks ago for breathing difficulties and repeatedly needed treatment for lung problems in recent years. Christ Hospital spokeswoman Dona Buckler did not release a cause of death.
Schott had reportedly been on a ventilator during her treatment in the hospital's intensive care unit.
Schott kept a low profile after she ended years of turmoil by selling her controlling interest in the club in October 1999. She appeared at news conferences when she made donations to the zoo and other local organizations.
She remained a limited partner in the team's ownership group and sued owner Carl Lindner because she didn't like her seats in the new Great American Ball Park, where the Reds moved in 2003.
The Reds had no immediate comment on her death.
At the team's spring training camp in Sarasota, Fla., Reds shortstop Barry Larkin said he hopes the controversies Schott was involved in don't overshadow the good things she did, including her money donations.
"I think people are remembered for the good things they do when they're gone," said Larkin, who has played for the Reds since 1986. "Now that she's gone they will remember the parties she had to raise money for kids, her involvement with the zoo, her giving to minority programs. She gave to minority programs before her racist comments came out.
"People ask me all the time about her racist comments. They ask me how I could talk to her," said Larkin, who is black. "But I had a good relationship with her. I just go on personal experience. She was always respectful to me and my family."
Schott's outspokenness as owner became her legacy and her downfall.
Schott had inherited and expanded her husband's business empire after he died in 1968. Until she took over the Reds in the mid-1980s, she was known as a car dealer who made campy television commercials featuring her beloved St. Bernards.
Once she got control of the front office, she became one of the most prominent figures in the history of baseball's first professional team.
The Reds won the 1990 World Series, sweeping the Oakland A's while Schott rubbed dog hair on manager Lou Piniella and his players.
Two years later, her use of racial slurs created a national controversy that overshadowed the club for nearly a decade. Baseball officials ordered her to watch her comments, but she continued to publicly praise Hitler - saying he was "good at the beginning" but then "went too far" - and make disparaging remarks about ethnic groups.
© 2004 The Associated Press