He doesn't want your sympathy.
And it doesn't sound as if he'll get it at Wrigley Field any time soon.
LaTroy Hawkins is intent on pursuing his career on his terms, with no particular desire to avoid or deal with the boos that seem to greet him in his home park as soon as he gets out of his car in the morning.
The embattled Cubs reliever has joined Todd Hundley, Antonio Alfonseca, Shawn Estes and Mel Rojas in incurring the wrath of fans who think of themselves as the most loyal in all of sports. But Hawkins will carry on, he says, with or without them.
"That comes with the job, booing comes with the territory," Hawkins said during a recent interview, his eyes never leaving the real estate magazine he was reading. "Everybody's not going to like you. I learned that as a kid. My parents taught me, 'Everybody's not going to like you.' You proceed doing the best you can and turn the page."
Hawkins has said the obstacles he faced growing up in Gary, Ind., were far greater than those he faces today, and his mother, Debra Morrow, concurs. Hawkins, she said, "never had it easy, and Chicago fans are never going to understand him, not at all, because he's looking at life differently than them."
Morrow calls her son "a survivor. " Hawkins, she said, "has been independent since he was 1 year old, doing what LaTroy wanted to do." It is those survival instincts, family members say, that keep him going emotionally when others might stumble.
On the Cubs' day off Thursday, Hawkins drove to Gary and visited with his grandfather, Eddie Williams, a retired steelworker who probably was the biggest influence in Hawkins' decision to pursue baseball over basketball as a youngster.
"He said, 'I got some fan mail the other day,'" Williams said, "and then he showed me. It called him all kinds of names, the N-word. He said he gets one or two of those every month. He put one in a frame in his house so he can look at it. He didn't show that it bothered him."
No fan of the media
The only thing that does bother him, Hawkins says, is sports reporters, who unnerve him to the point that he called his now-infamous news conference last June to proclaim he no longer would be speaking for public consumption.
A press conference to announce he no longer would be speaking to the press? A year later, Hawkins says that day's coverage is an example of why he doesn't trust the media.
"Just like I said in the interview, I want to come in, do my job and go home," Hawkins said. "The whole interview was never playedthere was a whole segment that was never played."
By contrast, his brief declaration that he no longer would be talking to reporters "was the only 15 seconds that was played over and over again."
Hawkins invokes the name of another Gary native as an example of what he views as selective coverage.
"When the prosecution was trying its case, the Michael Jackson trial was on the front page of USA Today every day," Hawkins said. "Now that the defense is on, you don't see it."
In addition to his decree that he would no longer be granting interviews, Hawkins' June '04 media session addressed the difference between setup men and closers; Billy Koch's apology to Sox fans for his failures; his experience as the Twins' setup man and closer; and taking over for the injured Joe Borowski as the Cubs' closer, all of which was duly reported.
But Hawkins says it's more than that. "Everybody has had their run-ins with the media," he said. "People believe [what they read]. You can't argue with the pen because you guys reach more people than we can reach, so whatever perception you guys draw up of an athlete, that's what people are going to take unless they know the real person."
So does he feel the need to allow fans to get to know him better, through the media?