ichael Vick's prison cell at the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kan., is only about 16 miles from where the Kansas City T-Bones play independent league baseball, in the Northern League. That proximity has led the T-Bones to schedule a May 28 Michael Vick "Welcome to the Neighborhood" night at their Community America Ballpark.
In conjunction with about 10 nearby animal shelters, the T-Bones will have a warning-track parade of dogs that are up for adoption. The team says it's trying to increase awareness of animal abuse with the tie to Vick. The former Atlanta Falcons quarterback is imprisoned for dogfighting offenses, to which he pleaded guilty.
"We're all big animal lovers here. A lot of us have dogs," T-Bones spokesman and radio announcer Tommy Thrall says. "We thought, 'How can we make this a positive deal?"'
But here's the touchy part: The T-Bones will wear black-and-white striped jerseys, prison style. The visiting Gary SouthShore RailCats will wear bright orange jumpsuit jerseys, similar to the ones DUI offenders wear while picking up roadside trash.
"Unfortunately, we can't do full jumpsuits, because that limits mobility," Thrall says.
One Kansas City animal-protection advocate is upset about the promotion.
"I think it's making a joke of it all," says Kristy Winfrey, who writes The Animal Advocate blog and volunteers at the Parkville Animal Shelter and Spay Neuter K.C. "I think once people get there, it's going to look ridiculous to them."
The NAACP has similar concerns. "It's personally troubling for me," national spokesman Richard McIntire says. "It sounds like they're willing to uplift one cause at the expense of another individual's human dignity.
"I don't know when it became sporting to kick a man when he's down. His actions were deplorable and are not condoned, but in this case it's a shame when others choose to make folly of another's misfortune."