It’s 2017. It’s been seventy years since Jackie Robinson conquered the color line and became the first non-white athlete to compete in Major League Baseball.
However, it’s a shock when racism and baseball go hand in hand these days.
Monday, May 1, 2017 featured the Baltimore Orioles opening a three-game set at Boston against the Red Sox. Orioles’ center fielder Adam Jones took the field for the 78th time in his Oriole career.
This night would be different, and it would lead to a can of worms uncovered.
Jones detailed how fans in Boston berated him and threw out a slew of racial slurs. The fans also threw a bag of peanuts at him, and Jones stated how it was the worst experience as a baseball player he ever had.
The Red Sox were quick to take action. Red Sox president Sam Kennedy publicly apologized to Jones and greeted him before Tuesday’s game. The Red Sox outfielders stated they were also ashamed at what happened.
Luckily, Tuesday’s game featured a nice moment. Before Jones took the plate against Chris Sale, people cheered for him. The fans gave him a standing ovation, and Sale stepped off the mound to let the moment breathe.
It’s such a heartwarming ending to the issue at hand, right? Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
Before Tuesday’s Orioles/Red Sox game, New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia detailed his own racist encounters in Boston. He even stated how black players have to expect it when they visit the city.
He’s not alone, and this comes from Red Sox pitcher David Price.
Price came to the Red Sox in 2016 through free agency. He told Peter Graham of the Boston Globe how he heard the fans throwing racial slurs at him while warming up in the bullpen last season.
What is going on in Boston? In short, this is not an Adam Jones issue. Not even close.
Sean Gregory of TIME Magazine documented how Boston sports teams cannot escape the racism in Boston. He’s not lying, and he uncovered disturbing evidence of many athletes encountering racism outside of the field, court and gridiron.
This is a case of Boston needing to grow with the times. This is a huge sports team who will be ridiculed because of this one incident.
Two things are important to remember.
Firstly, it’s a game. It is our privilege as fans to be there and to remember to not get overly worked up at sporting events.
Secondly, it’s important to treat others with respect. The last thing on anyone’s minds should be throwing derogatory insults at players who are living their dreams.
Adam Jones is one of those players. This is the same man who made one of the most stunning catches in his career during the World Baseball Classic.
Instead, more people will remember Jones’ experience in Boston this season.
Still, Jones should be commended for coming forward and standing his ground in Fenway. He’s a strong person who won’t and shouldn’t be taken lightly as a human being.
Tip your caps to the Red Sox organization. The players and management quickly sided with Jones and will take swift action to the fans that resort to racist comments.
The city of Boston, unfortunately, still has work to do.
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