Detroit reliever Phil Coke is speaking out against bullying.
A day after appearing before a task force in Detroit, Coke recalled Tuesday some of his experiences growing up. There was occasional physical bullying, as well as teasing he had to deal with.
"There's different things and different levels of, just kind of general picking on — 'Oh, your last name's Coke.' Little kids figure out ways to mess with your name all the time," Coke said in the clubhouse before Detroit's game against Seattle. "It can get under your skin and provoke you into getting upset or being angry or being down, getting upset enough to be withdrawn."
Monday was the start of a two-day hearing at Detroit's Wayne State University for the National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence. Coke was pleased to be a part of the discussion.
"There's just things that can and should be done. Instead of turning a blind eye to it, light's being shed on it, and for a good reason," Coke said. "It's for people that go through different things — and things that I heard (Monday). Like the school shootings, and it comes down to the kid had an issue because he was picked on by a group of kids, so he took matters into his own hands. There's no rhyme or reason for that to happen. None.
"That's an extreme case, but on a day to day, we can keep that kind of stuff from happening if we're just willing to pay a little more attention."
Coke says even kids who bully others might be reacting to difficulty in their own lives and may need help.
"It makes them feel good about themselves because they might not have things to feel good about. Maybe they have a tough home life," he said. "It's not an easy task to ask everybody to step up and be willing to come up with thoughts and ideas and a process to deal with and help out kids that are victims of, or even the kids that are doing the bullying."
The task force is co-chaired by former major league manager Joe Torre.