Inside The Corporate Softball Game That Got Way Out Of Hand Between CNN And AOL In 2003


There are some moments in sports that are timeless. The Boston Red Sox overcoming a 3-0 series deficit to the New York Yankees in the 2004 ALCS to end the Curse of the Bambino, a 21-year-old Tiger Woods winning The Masters by 12 strokes in 1997, Michael Jordan in the 1990s–they all pale in comparison to what happened in a 2003 corporate recreational softball game between CNN and AOL in 2003.

Let me set the scene for you. CNN’s then-White House Senior Correspondent, John King, is on base, representing the game winning run. CNN Senior Director Howie Lutt hammers a game winning, three-run homer over the fence and sends the dozens in attendance into a frenzy. After AOL purchased CNN’s parent company in 2000, CNN had it out for AOL and King made sure that the AOLians knew who their daddy was.

As he rounded second base, Washington Post reporter Howard Kurtz claimed he heard King screaming, “You’ve got mail, [expletive]!” towards the defeated team. AOL’s shortstop and center fielder took exception to King’s chest beating, as the center fielder bumped Lutt on his trip around the bases. Another AOL employee put his hand on King’s chest, which then resulted in both benches clearing and a shouting match between the two mega corporations.

“If he took it the wrong way, I’m sorry,” King said after the game. “I’m a boy playing softball, not consulting with my PR advisers before I speak.” He also denied adding an expletive at the end of the jab.

A spokesman for AOL said these were “two very competitive organizations and both clearly like to win. Apologies were exchanged after the game.”

No word on what CNN’s celebratory happy hour was like, but I can only imagine it involved John King shouting, “You’ve got mail, bitch!” whilst Stone Colding two Budweisers on top of a table.

[via Spokesman Review]

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Brian McGannon

What do I love? I love happy hour, a good golf tan, and getting moderately drunk during dinner.

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