`I Am Not A Racist,' Says Marge Schott

NEW YORK - Marge Schott said Adolf Hitler initially was good for Germany, that her references to "niggers" were joke terms and that she didn't understand why the word "Japs" was offensive, The New York Times reported today.

The Cincinnati Reds' owner, in interviews with the newspaper, explained some of her controversial statements, which have some owners calling for her suspension or ouster. "I'm not a racist," she said. "I've never meant any harm. I'm so sick of all of this. It's discouraging. I wish they'd stop all this falseness."

Schott has admitted keeping a swastika arm band at home, but told The Times her family members in Germany suffered in World War II.

"Hitler was good in the beginning, but he went too far," Schott said.

Schott has been criticized for using, or not denying, the use of the derogatory terms, including "money-grubbing Jew."

"But if and when I've used them," she told The Times, "it was only kiddingly." She also said they were "joke terms" and repeated her denial of calling Eric Davis and Dave Parker "million-dollar niggers."

"Of course (it) is a demeaning word," she said. "But I know that blacks call it to each other, too. I've been in the business world for 24 years and never had any problem with discrimination. I've got a Jewish manager in my car dealership who is like a son to me."

Schott also recalled being admonished by National League President Bill White last week for using the word "Jap."

"Bill said, `Marge, will you quit that!' I said, `Bill, I didn't know it was so bad. But I'll stop.' I didn't mean to insult the Japanese. I have the greatest respect for the way they've come back in the world."

Schott said she was upset with all the controversy surrounding her.