Sports News

Boston rushes to apologize after racist taunts of athlete

BOSTON (Reuters) - Fans at Boston’s Fenway Park gave Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones a loud ovation on Tuesday and the city, state and Red Sox officials apologized to the player, the day after he said he was subjected to racial taunting during a game there.

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Civil rights advocates said the Monday night incident at Boston’s historic ballpark illustrated simmering racism that is pervasive in a city that considers itself one of the most liberal in the United States.

“A disrespectful fan threw a bag of peanuts at me,” Jones, a five-time All-Star, told reporters after the game. “I got called the N-word a handful of times tonight. Thanks. Pretty awesome.”

Jones, who is African-American, said it was not the first time he had been the target of racial insults but that the ones hurled from the park’s bleachers were the worst he had faced.

He later told reporters he hoped the fans would be barred from attending future games at the 105-year-old park. The Red Sox said two people were ejected.

“This is unacceptable and not who we are as a city,” Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said in a statement. “These words and actions have no place in Fenway, Boston, or anywhere.”

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker called the incident “unacceptable & shameful” in a Twitter post, while the Red Sox issued an apology.

“Our entire organization and our fans are sickened by the conduct of an ignorant few,” Sam Kennedy, the team’s president. “Any spectator behaving in this manner forfeits his/her right to remain in the ballpark.”

The incident came months after “Saturday Night Live” star Michael Che called Boston “the most racist city I’ve ever been to.” He drew criticism, but Che stood by his comments, following with a March Instagram post that read: “My grandma is racist too, but i still love her.”

Experiences like Jones’ are common in Boston, said Tanisha Sullivan, president of the Boston NAACP civil rights group.

“This incident is certainly a stain on the city of Boston,” Sullivan said in an interview. “It is certainly emblematic of what so many people of color here in the city of Boston, black folk in the city of Boston, experience day in and day out.”

New York Yankees pitcher C.C. Sabathia said black Major League players frequently encountered racist catcalls in Boston, according to New York Newsday baseball writer Erik Boland.

“We all know. When you go to Boston, expect it,” Boland quoted Sabathia as saying in an interview.

Additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Additional writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Peter Cooney