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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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'I made a horrible mistake,' Rays coach of DUI charge
He takes the blame as his future is weighed.
By MARC TOPKIN and LEONORA LaPETER, Times Staff Writers
Published October 2, 2007
Tampa Bay Devil Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey, left, confers with relief pitcher Casey Fossum after he gave up a single to Colorado Rockies' Garrett Atkins.
ST. PETERSBURG - Pitching coach Jim Hickey, along with the rest of the Devil Rays coaching staff, was supposed to find out today if his contract with the baseball team would be extended for another year.
But shortly after the team returned from the season finale in Toronto Sunday night, Hickey was charged with DUI, hit-and-run with damage and resisting arrest after rear-ending a car driven by a Rays bat boy near Tropicana Field. He says his future with the team may be in doubt.
"I made a horrible mistake" Hickey, 45, said by phone Monday afternoon, hours after posting $900 bail on the misdemeanor charges. "It was a total lack of judgment. I apologize for that. It's inexcusable.
"I certainly put my job in jeopardy. They have every right to go in any direction they want to."
Before the incident it seemed likely that Hickey, who just completed his first season on manager Joe Maddon's staff, would be brought back.
But the Rays, who received a large dose of negative publicity earlier this season from the actions of troubled outfielder Elijah Dukes, were clearly not happy. And they intend to spend a few days reviewing the situation before deciding whether Hickey will be retained.
"Jim was very apologetic and ashamed for the lack of discretion leading to this situation," said Andrew Friedman, Rays executive vice president.
"The Devil Rays organization is very disappointed in the poor personal behavior which precipitated this incident. We expect Jim will face this incident honestly and appropriately."
Hickey, whose offseason home is in St. Cloud, was charged after an odd sequence of events:
Around 11 p.m., an undercover officer saw him run his silver pickup into the back of a green pickup at First Avenue S and 16th Street, in front of Tropicana Field.
The green pickup was driven by a Devil Rays bat boy, Matthew Felix Carlson, who had been at the stadium unpacking equipment. Both were stopped at a traffic light on 16th Street S; Carlson, 18, of Brandon, was not hurt.
Carlson pulled his '98 Chevrolet S10 pickup truck to the side of the road, police said, but Hickey took off toward Interstate 275. The officer followed him up Interstate 275 and communicated with other officers, who stopped him north of Gandy Boulevard.
Hickey pulled over at Gandy Boulevard for police Officer Steven W. Sprout but then tried to put the car in gear and drive away, according to a police arrest affidavit. Hickey refused to get out of the car, police said, and was brought out by officers. He stumbled when he got out of the car and fell to the ground.
Hickey tensed his muscles and put his hands under his chest after falling down on his face, police said. He refused to remove his hands, but police eventually managed to get his arms out and handcuff him.
Hickey had a strong odor of alcohol, his speech was slurred and he swayed and appeared disoriented, the police report said. He refused to take a Breathalyzer or a blood test, which automatically results in a one-year suspension of his license.
He was booked at the Pinellas County Jail at 3:29 a.m. and released on bail at 7:58 a.m. The Rays arrived by chartered flight around 9 p.m. Sunday and got back to the Trop around 9:30.
The team instituted a policy this season of not providing alcohol on home-bound flights, after the alcohol-related death of a St. Louis Cardinals pitcher, theoretically to prevent this type of incident with personnel getting off the team bus and into their own cars. But it's possible team personnel could bring on board their own alcohol.
Hickey did not want to discuss details of what happened or what he did after returning to the Trop, except to say he was not with anyone else from the team at the time.
"I don't really have anything to add, I don't want to say this happened or that happened," Hickey said. "I take total responsibility for my actions and I'll face up to it and make it right."
Hickey joined the Rays in November shortly after being dismissed by Houston, where he was the major-league pitching coach for 2 1/2 seasons after 13 years as a minor league coach.
Hickey was involved in an odd incident in June when, while playing golf with other team personnel in Arizona, he said he was struck in the right eye when his ball ricocheted off the curb of a cart path, requiring surgery to repair a detached retina.
Times staff writer Abhi Raghunathan and researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report.