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Charleston RiverDogs scrap OJ Trial Night promotion amid backlash

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Riley Park

The Charleston RiverDogs' Riley Park has held some of the best promotions in the MiLB. The team is asking fans to vote on which is the best of all-time. File/Staff

After announcing a promotion that offered a “juicy spin” on the O.J. Simpson murder trial, the Charleston RiverDogs on Thursday said they have removed the idea from the 2020 calendar.

"After taking a step back and having further reflection on the overall message that was being conveyed, it was the responsible thing to do," team president Dave Echols said.

The minor league baseball team on Monday rolled out its 2020 promotional calendar for home games. The schedule included the usual, quirky ideas like Human Cannonball Night, one where a man will literally be shot out of a cannon.

But OJ Trial Night, initially slated for May 26, struck the most nerves, with critics saying it made light of a tragic situation.

Simpson, a former NFL star running back and comic actor, was acquitted of criminal murder charges in October 1995. He was tried on two counts of murder for the slashing deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman.

The RiverDogs' spin on the trial centered around orange juice. In their promotional description, the RiverDogs wrote:

“The trial of the century gets a juicy new spin. We will finally receive the verdict that everyone has been waiting for … pulp or no pulp?.”

“Fans will act as our jury, voting with custom paddles to reach verdicts on various topics throughout the night. The eyes of the nation will be upon us. Fans will receive an “OJ Trial” shirt upon entering the stadium. If the shirt don’t fit, you must … see if we have a different size.”

All Lowcountry2.jpg

RiverDogs President Dave Echols congratulates Chace Cooper as players from the Post and Courier’s All-Lowcountry baseball and softball teams were honored by the RiverDogs before their game against the Rome Braves Tuesday, July 9, 2019 in Charleston. Grace Beahm Alford/Staff

Echols said Tuesday that the front office staff works to be creative and innovative with their ideas, and likes to take risks to be one of the best promotional clubs in minor league baseball. However, he added, their intent is never to offend.

Sara Barber, the executive director of the SC Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, said she is relieved the team has decided to cancel the promotion.

She said the RiverDogs have previously served as advocates for domestic violence victims, including promotions that offer awareness on such issues.

Barber added that she hopes the team can get back to those positive messages.

"I’m glad that the Riverdogs have reconsidered and recognized that this promotion crossed the line from humor into insensitivity and disregard for both the victims in this case and the thousands of South Carolinians who are victims of violence every year," she said.

Reach Derrek Asberry at 843-937-5517. Follow him on Twitter @DerrekAsberry

Sports Reporter

Derrek Asberry is sports reporter with the Post and Courier. He joined the newsroom in March 2016, after three years at the Aiken Standard where he covered the Savannah River Site. He enjoys New York Yankee baseball and poker.

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