While Major League Baseball and the Red Sox organization reacted with revulsion and condemnation that Baltimore’s Adam Jones was taunted with racial slurs and pelted with a bag of peanuts during Monday night’s game at Boston’s Fenway Park, CC Sabathia had a different take.
“It’s happened to me — not surprising,” the Yankees lefthander said. “It’s bad. You get called names — the N-word, all kind of stuff — when you go to Boston . . . I’m glad that he spoke up. It’s disgusting.”
“I heard something that caught my attention and I’m like ‘I hope I really didn’t just hear what I thought I heard,’ ” Jones recounted in an MLB Network interview. “I’ve played against the Red Sox for 10 years and I understand booing the opponent . . . but not the racial stuff. It [expletive] that it’s still going on in 2017.”
Asked if he’d heard similar accounts from other African-American players, Sabathia replied “there’s 62 of us and we all know: when you go to Boston, expect it . . . I’ve never had it anywhere else except there . . . even shagging in the outfield before the game, sometimes you get it.”
“It’s nothing new to any of us,” Braves outfielder Matt Kemp said. “He let it be known that’s what we go through. I mean, it’s pretty much normal, especially in some of these different cities. I’m not going to name all the cities, but there’s some pretty tough cities where people say some pretty ruthless things. There’s . . . nobody holding anybody accountable for some of the things these fans do.”
It was a very different scene Tuesday night at Fenway, where security had been beefed up and Red Sox owner John Henry and team president Sam Kennedy made personal apologies to Jones. When he came to bat in the first inning, Boston pitcher Chris Sale stepped off the mound and the crowd lavished him with applause. Jones was cheered again as he returned to the dugout after striking out.
MLB and the Red Sox both said incidents like those Monday night will be dealt with harshly in the future.
“The racist words and actions directed at Adam Jones at Fenway Park last night are completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated at any of our ballparks,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “My office has been in contact with the Red Sox, and the club has made it clear that they will not tolerate this inexcusable behavior. Our 30 clubs will continue to work with fans and security to provide a family-friendly environment. Any individual who behaves in such offensive fashion will be immediately removed from the ballpark and subject to further action.”
Kennedy said that 34 people were ejected from Fenway Park on Monday night — well above the average, he said — and that included the person who threw the bag of peanuts, as well as another for using foul language toward a player. It wasn’t clear whether that was the spectator who used the slur.
“The Red Sox want to publicly apologize to Adam Jones and the entire Orioles organization for what occurred at Fenway Park Monday night. No player should have an object thrown at him on the playing field, nor be subjected to any kind of racism at Fenway Park,” Kennedy said in a statement. “The Red Sox have zero tolerance for such inexcusable behavior, and our entire organization and our fans are sickened by the conduct of an ignorant few.
“Such conduct should be reported immediately to Red Sox security, and any spectator behaving in this manner forfeits his/her right to remain in the ballpark, and may be subject to further action. Our review of last night’s events is ongoing.”
“It’s good that the awareness is there and that MLB and the Red Sox are going to take a stand on it,” Jones said. “It’s intolerable.”
The increased security could be impactful. Sabathia said that hate speech hadn’t been directed at him since he joined the Yankees in 2009 and attributed it to the club’s traveling security detail. But that when he visited Fenway Park as a member of the Indians “it was bad, really bad. I think that’s something you know going in, I guess, when you go there.”
Jones is one of the most-recognized players in the game, a five-time All-Star and hero from Team USA’s championship in the World Baseball Classic. Sabathia sees him as the right kind of player to raise awareness.
“It just [expletive] he had to go through this,” Sabathia said. “But if there’s a guy that can handle it and go through it and speak on it, it’s him.”
With Erik Boland, Marc Carig and The Associated Press