CHICAGO — The Cubs' attempt to prevent vendors from selling racially insensitive T-shirts outside Wrigley Field apparently have hit a snag.
The T-shirts, which feature a cartoon of a slanty-eyed bear Cub with oversized, Harry Caray-style glasses and the words "Horry Kow" written on the front, drew the ire of the organization when they originally went on sale at some souvenir stands outside Wrigley in early April.
The T-shirts were supposed to be an attempt to poke fun at Japanese pronunciation of the English language, using Kosuke Fukudome's popularity on the North Side as a hook. The Cubs were able to get vendors who sell Major League Baseball merchandise around the park to stop selling the offensive T-shirts and a team spokesman said the company that manufactured the shirts has agreed to stop making them.
But apparently a large number of the shirts still exist, and the T-shirt ban hasn't stopped individuals with city licenses to sell them. A few vendors were selling them outside of Wrigley before Thursday's game.
"My personal viewpoint is they're not blatantly racist," said John Weier, a vendor selling the Horry Kow T-shirts outside of the Cubby Bear Lounge at the corner of Addison and Clark Streets. "It's a novelty T-shirt. We're not trying to hurt or offend anyone."
Weier knows Fukudome does not like the T-shirts, but said he has no qualms about selling them to fans, saying he was "trying to make a living."
Fukudome has called the T-shirts offensive and the Cubs were so concerned about them they forced many souvenir stands to remove the shirts last month. But Weier said the Cubs have no say over the street vendors, as long as they are not selling the T-shirts on club property.
"There are four or five guys selling them on this corner alone," he said. "Hey, you can buy them on eBay for $50."
Weier also had another T-shirt that read "Fukudome for President," but left small spaces in between some of the letters to make it profane.
Cubs spokesman Peter Chase said the team is working with the city to crack down on the sellers, but said they cannot police every corner every game.
Efforts to reach a city spokesman were unsuccessful Thursday.