LADY AT THE BAT: Book Review: Abused By The Yankees

Friday, March 20, 2015

Book Review: Abused By The Yankees

Remember Paul Priore? He was the clubhouse attendant who accused the New York Yankees of firing him because he is gay and HIV-positive. Priore also accused pitchers Bob Wickman, Jeff Nelson and Mariano Rivera of attempting to sexually assault him with a baseball bat, and Wickman of body-slamming him a number of times. He took the pitchers and the team to court, but walked away empty-handed when the suit was thrown out.

Now Priore has written what he is calling a “tell-all” book, about those alleged events and a whole slew of others he claims happened during his tenure as an assistant to his father, former clubhouse manager Nick Priore.

Abused by The New York Yankees, ghost-written by Gary Toushek, is a huge, self-published, 515-page tome. Though I did not read all 515 pages, I am confident that I read enough of it to be able to comment on it.

In an email, Toushek explained that he approached only two publishers. One of them wanted to leave out the “truth,” and the representative for the other was too much of a Yankees fan to think objectively about it.  So, after this very small sample size, Toushek decided that they were better off self-publishing the book.

His marketing strategy includes appealing to women, whom he feels are more likely to understand the abuse the subject of the book allegedly suffered. "I’m appealing to you as a woman first, and a sports fan second," he said in his initial email to me, along with, "As a woman you are probably more aware of abuse than men are." He is probably selling a lot of men short here (and giving some women too much credit), but I'll refrain from elaborating on that and stick to the matter at hand.
Born to an alcoholic mother who met Nick Priore in a bar several years later, Paul Priore was a little boy when he began accompanying his adoptive father to his job in the Yankee clubhouse, in the early ‘70s when Pete Sheehy still managed things.   Eventually he was working there himself. He was there, in one capacity or another until he was fired in 1997.  The things he describes being subjected to there are vile, disgusting and horrific—times 10.

Priore talks about a hellish childhood that included sexual abuse and neglect in his home life. Despite those horrors, he claims that at Yankee Stadium he was a bold, precocious child who took no guff from anyone. Years later, as an employee, he says he witnessed and/or was a victim of what could only be called a living hell:  Illegal gambling, drinking and infidelity; players tossing their jock-itch, ringworm and pubic lice-infected clothing into his face; autograph forgery, batboy abuse and steroid use; swapping urine samples; and, gay bashing as awful as you can imagine. Throughout it all, he portrays himself as a Norma Ray, speaking up and complaining to the highest levels of authority, not only for himself, but also for batboys and a father he describes as a coward who allowed people to walk all over him. The alleged perpetrators included players with pristine reputations, known for being deeply religious.

I brought my hand to my mouth more than a few times while reading about it. I also remembered something.  Yankees play-by-play announcer Michael Kay told a disgusting story during his radio show one day:  When he was still a beat writer, he was in the Yankees clubhouse one day when a player deliberately stood in front of him and passed gas.  I don’t believe Kay would lie about something like that, so if that happened to him, the things Priore describes could have happened as well. Especially the gay bashing.

Remember, Priore was fired in 1997.  That was almost 20 years ago.  Words like “diversity” and “inclusion” were virtually unknown.  People were not as educated as they are now about these things. Also, a religious person during that time would have had no problem participating in a sexual assault of a gay man, especially if he was a very young, foreign player trying to fit in. (Yes, I’m talking about Mariano Rivera.)  A guy like Paul Priore would be relatively safe in a Major League clubhouse today, but not 20 years ago.

So, these things could have happened to Paul Priore. But, did they? I’m not so sure.

I began reading this book with an open mind, telling myself that anything is possible. At first I noticed that the pages were filled with sentences with incorrect punctuation.  However, since the book was self-published, I decided to over-look that.  Besides, in his introduction, Toushek says he “took a liberty with the punctuation” to preserve how Priore told the story to him.

Soon, however, I was reading things that puzzled me. After a while, I was just plain skeptical. Skeptical enough to question Priore’s “truth.”  That question was brought on by several things:

It is hard to believe that a child going through such a horrific childhood would be precocious enough to tell George Steinbrenner like it is. Priore takes credit for George Steinbrenner’s signature fashion statement, the turtleneck, saying that he was a child when he looked right at Steinbrenner and said, “You know, that thing you’ve got on your neck looks like a turkey’s wattle, you really should get some surgery on that or cover it up.”  Soon after that, Priore claims, Steinbrenner started wearing turtlenecks.  Speaking only for myself, I don’t remember knowing what a turkey’s wattle was as a child, let alone knowing surgery could fix it.

Inside The Clubhouse
He describes Derek Jeter as a Latino player, and claims he witnessed Jeter and Jorge Posada speaking to each other in Spanish—and having a very serious conversation at that!

He also mentions one of Jeter’s very close friends, Gerald Williams, as being caught having sex in a storage closet with an underage girl who worked one of the concession stands, and as bragging about having illegitimate kids and paying tons of hush money to their mothers.  Outside of Posada, Williams is Jeter’s closest friend. I can’t see a close friend of Jeter’s behaving in that manner. Also, knowing that Williams is on the board of Jeter’s Turn 2 Foundation makes it even harder to believe.

He admits he doesn’t know a whole lot about sports, but how could he have forgotten that the Yankees made the playoffs in 1995? He says, “The 1995 season was a fairly uneventful one for the team, they didn’t make it into the playoffs….”  In fact, they were the first AL Wild Card in MLB history, and were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. He also claims that when Buck Showalter was fired, there was a "celebration" in the clubhouse after he left. That is hard to believe because the “firing,” if you want to call it that, wasn’t announced until game 5 of the World Series, and Showalter was given the news by his wife via a reporter, who called him on his cell phone while he was out driving his car. By that time there should only have been a few players in the clubhouse at any given time, cleaning out their lockers.

The Steam Room
I’m not sure if it was before or after this“celebration,” but he says that, at the end of the 1995 season, he also caught Jeter and Posada having a sexual encounter in the steam room. Yes, Jeter and Posada.  To be sure, I am not one of those fans who believes this is impossible.  However, he claims that, in order to keep his mouth shut about it, they let him perform oral sex on each of them, in a car behind some warehouses next to the Stadium.  First, I’m not aware of any warehouses that were next to the old Stadium. Second, and most importantly, if these two players wanted him to keep quiet, wouldn’t they have performed oral sex on him? 

After the car encounter, he says, “Jeter asked if we were ‘even,’ I guess meaning that if I said anything about seeing them in the steam room, they would tell people about me being in the car with them.”  Really? Wouldn’t it have been easier for Jeter and Posada to, instead of having a threesome in a car, just deny that anything at all happened? After all, it would have been their word against his. Surely Jeter’s and Posada’s words would be believed over Paul Priore’s. Besides, Jeter and Posada telling what happened in the car would not only out Priore, but themselves as well. I cannot believe they would have been willing to do that in 1995. One more thing:  Priore mentions the relationship status of both men at that time, saying “Posada was married and Jeter was dating female celebrities.”  In fact, Posada did not marry his wife Laura until 2000. I could be wrong about Jeter, but I don’t think he was already dating celebrities in 1995.

Back In The Clubhouse
Priore apparently can’t make up his mind about what some players did. Early in the book, on page 62, he describes Cecil Fielder and Darryl Strawberry as drunks, saying Fielder guzzled vodka right out of the bottle and took the field intoxicated. Strawberry, he says, preferred whisky, and drank before, during and after games. However, later on in the book, on page 119, he describes them both as “serious about the game” and that they “kept themselves healthy and fit.”

Priore also claims that only he believed the Yankees would win the 1996 World Series. The players had no confidence in themselves whatsoever.  He believes Oakland GM Billy Beane was “an MLB manager,” says little about the gay former MLB player Billy Bean, and believes that his father Nick belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame!

Paul Priore describes all of these things while painting himself as an unabashed, outspoken champion, both of his own rights and those of other off-the-field employees, including several batboys and his father.  On almost every page, he portrays himself as not taking any crap, getting in the faces of everyone from fellow clubhouse employees to senior executives.  He claims he complained to everyone about the alleged sexual assault and other things he claims were going on. He told Stadium security, called 911, and went all the way up the ladder to then Assistant GM Brian Cashman and GM Bob Watson. They all turned a deaf ear to him, he says, and lied about why they fired him, saying it was because of theft.

Forrest Gump
He also gives the impression that he is a real-life version of the iconic movie character portrayed by Tom Hanks:

He claims he met Madonna at a diner in Queens (before she was famous), Marisa Tomei while he was working on the set of A Different World (before she won an Oscar) and Mariah Carey at Madison Square Garden (before Jeter did.) He even claims he told Tomei she’d win an Oscar one day, years before she won it.

He says he was at the World Trade Center, for both the 1993 and the 2001 attacks, claiming to have just eaten at Windows on The World before the ’93 attack. He says he was employed with a cleaning service scheduled to work at the site on 9/11, and just missed being killed because his boss told him to go have some breakfast and come back later. During the attacks, he says, he led several people to safety, including a family of foreign tourists.

He says Steinbrenner was actively involved in the Iran-Contra Affair, and claims he overheard him on the phone with Ronald Reagan, cursing and telling the President that, as long as he made a profit, he could care less about the lives of the Iran hostages.

He also claims to have been separated from a twin at birth.

During much of the time he worked in the Yankees clubhouse, Priore says he carried a small tape recorder, which even recorded the times he was abused. I asked Toushek, via email, if these recordings were entered into evidence during his lawsuit. The reply was, “Yes, Paul's audio recordings and the transcripts of them done by his lawyers were used as evidence in his lawsuit against the Yankees. When the org's lawyers heard them, they were convinced of their damaging potential if ever presented in a courtroom, and undoubtedly reported that to Steinbrenner.”  How he knew they were convinced, I'm not sure.

That brings us to how Priore thinks the suit was thrown out of court: He believes The Boss paid off judges and anyone else involved to make it happen. Knowing Steinbrenner’s history (Illegal contributions to the Nixon Campaign and a little matter involving someone named Howie Spira), I do not doubt for a minute that he could have paid to have the suit thrown out.  However, all of the discrepancies and hard-to-believe stories I have pointed out keep me from coming to that conclusion.

The book closes with the results of a lie-detector test Priore claims to have taken and passed with flying colors. Condensed test, I should say, because that is exactly what Toushek says it is. That means some things were left out. Were they things Priore answered wrong?  Not according to Robert Wall, a retired Canadian police Detective, whose firm, ITV Consulting, administered the test.  In Wall’s report at the end of the test, he says, “After careful assessment of the verbal and written transcription of the subject’s interview…my determination is that there is no deceit [bold lettering theirs] exhibited by the subject…..I believe he is telling the truth….”

The Truth?
Belief. That’s what I think this is all about. Not just Wall’s belief, or Toushek’s, but Paul Priore’s. Especially Paul Priore’s.  If someone truly believes with all their heart that they are telling the truth, they will pass every lie detector test on the face of the earth.  (That is likely one reason why such tests are not admissible in a court of law.) As you turn the pages of the book, you can feel how passionate he is about what he says happened to him. He truly believes that every single thing he told Toushek actually happened. For him, it is The Truth. For me, unfortunately, it is probably only His Truth.

As long as this post is, there is still a ton of things I did not address. If I had, why would you want to read the book? Read it and decide for yourself. If you’re so inclined, you can order the book here.

11 comments:

Gary Toushek said...

I’m grateful when someone takes the time to read and review our book Abused by the New York Yankees, but I found that Ms. Pasley made a few statements that merit clarification. She said that I had told her in an email that we (I’m quoting her) “approached only two publishers. One of them wanted to leave out the ‘truth,’ and the representative for the other was too much of a Yankees fan to think objectively about it. So, after this very small sample size Toushek decided they were better off self-publishing.” What I actually said in that email was that we approached major publishers, the first one took three months to evaluate and consider our controversial manuscript, and in the end their attorney said that if it was properly vetted, it would ‘sanitize’ the more contentious elements and diminish the story, so they passed on it. The fact is that it’s a true tell-all that even a major publisher considered too libelous to take on, so after the next major publisher also passed on it, we logically reasoned that we would need to have it vetted on our own by a reputable defamation lawyer and then self-publish it, which we did.

In her review she says that the facts of my co-author’s story are ‘claims’ and ‘allegations,’ since she doesn’t want to believe that they could possibly be true. From reading her blog I understand that Ms. Pasley is a loyal Yankees fan who prefers to regard her idols as celebrities who would do no wrong and therefore she finds it difficult to accept my co-author’s story as being legitimate, despite the evidence and proof presented throughout the book as well as the detailed lie detector test included at the end. Actually she disputes the test itself, too, first saying that it has been condensed -- which is true, because if we’d included the entire test it would’ve taken at least 30 more pages, and she already notes that it’s a ‘huge’ book, which it is. As well, in that email to me that she mentioned, she made the bold assertion that “it is possible to pass a lie detector test without telling the truth.” Well, I challenge her to pass any official lie detector test of her choice without telling the truth.

I was puzzled by her tone and confrontational attitude in challenging the authenticity of my co-author’s story, which includes the abuse he suffered while working for the Yankees. About that she says: “[Toushek’s] marketing strategy includes appealing to women, whom he feels are more likely to understand the abuse the subject of the book [my co-author] allegedly suffered. "I’m appealing to you as a woman first, and a sports fan second," he said in his initial email to me, along with, "As a woman you are probably more aware of abuse than men are." He is probably selling a lot of men short here (and giving some women too much credit), but I'll refrain from elaborating on that and stick to the matter at hand.”

Why would she refrain from elaborating on the abuse? It is the matter at hand, it’s the core issue of the book. She infers that men are more aware of abuse, perhaps more sensitive about it than women. That’s an interesting opinion and I wish she would’ve elaborated. Abuse needs to be confronted and discussed, in order for it to be understood and hopefully discouraged. Early this year I wrote an opinion piece about it that is posted on our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/abusedbytheyankees/notes?ref=page_internal dated January 6.

I wonder: Why is Ms. Pasley so negative and unaccepting about the true story of a gay man being abused by her Yankee heroes? Is she somehow in denial? Is she also the kind of person who tends to find fault with nearly everything? It’s possible.

To her credit, she does end her review suggesting that you read the book and decide for yourself. Sounds like a good idea to me.

Gary Toushek
http://abusedbytheyankees.com/

Bernadette Pasley said...

The fact that it has taken Toushek TWO months to comment on this review tells me that he thought long and hard to come up with a rebuttal. It also tells me that he struggled to find anything wrong with what I had to say. He comments prove that exactly.

1) Here is what Toushek actually said about the number of publishers he approached about the book:

"From the onset we tried to keep the preparation of this book a secret, anticipating that the Yankees would not want to see it published. I used a non-disclosure agreement with most people I dealt with and when it came time to approach major publishers, I met with an agent who I didn't have confidence in, he warned me that a publisher would never sign a non-disclosure, and he wouldn't try. So I employed the services of an IP lawyer, who managed to get them to sign, obviously they were intrigued. The first publisher I chose took three months to evaluate and consider, and in the end, their attorney made a statement to the effect that if the manuscript was properly vetted, it would ‘sanitize’ the more contentious elements and diminish the story, so they passed on it. The second publisher I chose had a senior editor who I discovered was a baseball fan, but he was offended that we would tell the truth about his idols, his heroes, and politely insulted us. That left us no choice but to self-publish."

I'm not good in math but, I only counted two publishers.

2) I am quite clear throughout the review about why I use the words "claims" and "allegations." As I wrote, I was ready to believe his co-author, until I noticed the many discrepancies in the book. If he's going to state that the Yankees didn't make the playoffs in 1995 (which they did), and that Derek Jeter is Latino and fluent in Spanish (which he isn't), why should I believe anything more serious?

3) Asking, "Why would she refrain from elaborating on the abuse?" is a poor attempt at taking things out of context. I stated only that I would refrain from elaborating on how much men knew about abuse. I was writing a book review, after all, not an article about the subject in general.

I also did not refrain from discussing the abuse allegedly suffered by his co-author. In fact, I begin mentioning it in the first paragraph. At the end of the review I explained why I didn't include even more details: "As long as this [review] is, there is still a ton of things I did not address. If I had, why would you want to read the book?"

Gary Toushek said...

I’m amused that Ms. Pasley thinks it took me two months to figure out how to respond to her review since I have nothing else to do in my life... I get the distinct impression she’s Derek Jeter’s biggest fan. And it’s unfortunate for her that we’re disclosing the truth about a few aspects of his life in this book, but the truth can’t be changed. The fact is, Jeter spoke to his friend and teammate Jorge Posada in Spanish in my co-author’s presence. That doesn’t mean he’s Latino, it just means he spoke Spanish. Nowhere in our book does it infer or state that Jeter is Latino. I need to underline that for her. By the way, in those days Posada was the kind of guy who referred to his fiance Laura as his wife, even before they were officially married... I hope that one day Ms. Pasley will accept the truth about the Yankees.

Gary Toushek
http://abusedbytheyankees.com/

Bernadette Pasley said...

If Toushek actually takes the time to read this blog, he will see that I am far from being Derek Jeter's biggest fan. (Lol, I can't say the same thing about my contributors!)

Apparently, his co-author is the only one who knows that Derek Jeter speaks Spanish. If he REALLY spoke Spanish, more people would know about it, I'm sure. As for being Latino, the second-to-last paragraph on page 156, to me, reads as if he is being referred to as Latino.

Posada could have referred to Laura as his wife before they were married, but that doesn't mean the authors should have done that. If they are really concerned about getting the truth out, I would think that they would have just said she was his fiancé, no matter what Posada called her at the time.

I am VERY willing to accept the truth about the Yankees. As soon as I hear it. :)

Anonymous said...

The real question is why is the co-author or writer of this book is so concerned with one woman's review? It's a review! She's supposed to give her OPINIONS. And that should be that, why is this imbecile wasting time debating this woman's opinions? Most authors do not respond to reviews, let alone write a full essay combating specific points to try and prove the validity of his ridiculous claims. If he and Priore are so sure of their account they would not be spending so much time and energy trying to prove it. Of course publishers turned this down, it's filled with ludicrous claims that have 0 backing or proof behind them. There may be some kernels do truth in there, heck some of it might have actually happened, but until he can provide some evidence how does he expect us to believe the claims of a disgruntled former employee who displays an obvious penchant for storytelling and a serious hero complex. Did this guy really claim to have been at the towers for BOTH attacks?? He left the trade center on 9/11 because his boss told him to go eat? When was the last time you showed up to your job and your boss said, "Hey we're about to go inside and start working but you look hungry, why don't you go get an egg sandwich while we all go in and work." This guy, well both of them really, are obviously starved for attention. Why else would they take a story fit for the National Enquirer and try to force it into the public consciousness by self-publishing something no legitimate publisher would touch with a ten foot pole. I doubt the book will even get any coverage since the claims inside are so ludicrous and libelous ESPN wouldn't dare repeat them.

This guy is a nut, taking the time to write a personal rebuttal to a REVIEW of his book. You can't argue someone's opinion ya dope!

PS- if Priore was HIV positive and he performed oral sex on both Jeter and Posada won't they both have HIV and potentially AIDS?

James Allen said...

This was an excellent review. I appreciated the well-reasoned and balanced arguments. I detected zero preconceptions or bias.

I was intrigued by the book and was considering buying it. I came here hoping to firm up an opinion, one way or the other. I was ready to buy it, inspire of the flaws mentioned by the reviewer, until the author happened along. His gross misrepresentation of the review, and the intentions of the reviewer, did not resonate, at all, with this reader. So no purchase for me.

Thanks for the informative review.

Travis M. Nelson said...

I don't really know why I'm getting involved in this shit storm, but here goes:

While not unheard of to have an author respond to some of the things one writes in an online review (Steve Kettman emailed me directly about something I said in my review of Juiced, and I have had a little dialogue with a few others) I tend to agree that this author is vastly overcompensating in an effort to lend some credence to an obviously libelous and preposterous tome.

But I also want to take Bernadette to task a bit. I don't think that a religious person would have helped to assault a gay man just because it was 20 years ago and that sort of thing was somehow acceptable. That's ridiculous. First of all, 20 years is not that long, and secondly, sexual assault and extortion are a far cry from purposely farting on a reporter or even gay bashing, whether you're a religious person or not.

If there were any evidence of his claims at all, he should have presented it to the police or something at that time. Jeter may have been the team's heir apparent even at that time, but he wasn't rich and important yet. And Posada was not yet the perennial MVP candidate he would become. He was a 24 year old prospect, with only a sip of major league coffee to his credit, drafted in the 24th round in 1990 (as a shortstop!), sporting a minor league batting average of .256 with a strikeout about once every four at-bats. He was in no position to keep someone quiet about something like that. The fact that Nick Priore does not seem to support his own son's allegations, not to mention that the state of NY didn't buy them, suggests that they have no merit.

Bernadette Pasley said...

I appreciate your comments, Travis. Thanks for reading the review. Just to clarify, my point about Mariano Rivera was that he was "a young foreign player trying to fit in." I believe that, when you look at it that way, him participating in such an assault is possible.

In any case, I think I have demonstrated that it is hard to believe that the assault did, in fact, occur.

Anonymous said...

Coauthors of the controversial tell all book about the Yankees titled Www.abusedbytheyankees.com are in a bitter battle with each other, priore has accused toushek are mismanagement and illegal business practices as well as criminality. Priore has posted some details on his personal Facebook page and toushek threatening to sue priore for defamation. It's getting heated.

Bernadette Pasley said...

Regarding the previous comment, I wasn't sure whether or not I should believe it, until I did a search on Facebook and found what I am almost 100% sure is Priore's page. If it is, in fact, his page, as of May 8, 2017 he "is no longer 'endorsing' this book..." Regarding his co-author, Gary Toushek, Priore said:

"I am no longer involved by my choice due to unprofessional actions and violations of the terms and conditions of our business contracts that my coauthor has done. I can no longer [be] involved with someone that I don't trust and has proven time and again that he can willfully and international[ly] violate the terms and conditions of our business contracts without regards to what his business partnership relationship is, so I decided to walk away from this book project."

It appears that things have deteriorated badly between Priore and Toushek, so much so that Toushek is threatening to sue Priore. Not surprising at all, especially when you find out that the two have never actually met. The entire business was conducted online and over the phone.

Iamhungey 12345 said...

Lol, so it gets better.

Guess there won't be a sequel titled, "Abused by the New York Yankees 2: The Electric Boogaloo".