Rice blames controversy on misquote

Updated: August 25, 2009, 10:41 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Hall of Famer Jim Rice says he was "misquoted" last week when he reportedly referred to Derek Jeter among others in saying young players shouldn't use today's generation of major leaguers as role models.

"What do you expect?" he said, according to Yahoo! Sports. "Who are the Red Sox playing? The Yankees. What else do you expect but some controversy involving the Red Sox and Yankees?"

Rice Anybody who reads that story knows I wasn't talking about Jeter or Rodriguez. Look at them. Do you see any baggy pants? Do you see any dreadlocks?

-- Jim Rice

Rice made the original remarks Friday while speaking to players before the start of the Little League World Series.

"You see a Manny Ramirez, you see an A-Rod [Alex Rodriguez], you see Jeter ... Guys that I played against and with, these guys you're talking about cannot compare," Rice said in a complex cafeteria in South Williamsport, Pa.

The former Red Sox outfielder, inducted into Cooperstown last month along with Rickey Henderson, played 16 seasons in Boston, batting .298 with 382 homers before retiring in 1989.

Rice's talk to Little Leaguers was part of his first trip to Williamsport since playing minor league baseball in the central Pennsylvania city in 1971.

But Rice was "flabbergasted," according to Yahoo! Sports, when asked about the widespread media coverage resulting from the speech.

"Anybody who reads that story knows I wasn't talking about Jeter or Rodriguez," he said. "Look at them. Do you see any baggy pants? Do you see any dreadlocks?

"When you think of the Yankees, who do you think of? Him [Jeter] and Rodriguez. Anyone who knows the game, anyone with any common sense knows which players give you leadership. And think about the way they play every day. Can you see either A-Rod or Jeter going into the manager's office and saying, 'Skip, I don't feel like playing today?' "

According to the report, Rice laughed hard when told his comments were taken by many as jealousy toward today's high-paid players.

"You ask anyone who was at that speech, they'll tell you that I talked about how we were the ones who helped those guys get the money they're getting today. I went through three strikes. I was once one of the highest paid guys," Rice said.

"I don't resent that. The money has gone up, and it's still going up."

Jeter didn't think it was funny, however.

"I didn't know I was like that," he said to reporters. "That would be a first for me."

Later on Friday night, after the Yankees routed the Red Sox 20-11, a game in which Jeter and Rodriguez combined for seven hits, three RBIs and five runs scored, A-Rod deferred to the Yankees' captain when told that Rice said he was misquoted.

"Tell him," Rodriguez said, referring to Jeter.

But Jeter wasn't biting.

"Misquoted?" Jeter said. "How was he misquoted?"

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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