Los Angeles (AFP) – The Boston Red Sox apologized on Tuesday after fans at Fenway Park hurled racist abuse at Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones.
Jones, who is black, said he was subjected to racial epithets and had objects thrown at him during the Orioles-Red Sox game on Monday night.
The incident sent the Red Sox scrambling into damage limitation mode on Tuesday, branding the episode as “sickening” as appalled city and civil rights leaders condemned the abuse.
“The Red Sox want to publicly apologize to Adam Jones and the entire Orioles organization for what occurred at Fenway Park Monday night,” Red Sox President Sam Kennedy said in a statement.
“No player should have an object thrown at him on the playing field, nor be subjected to any kind of racism at Fenway Park. 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.”
The Red Sox said any spectator taking part in abuse would be ejected from the stadium and could be subjected to further action. “Our review of last night’s events is ongoing,” the team said.
Orioles veteran Jones — a five-time All-Star who is just one of 62 African-American players listed on MLB opening day rosters — described the incident as “very unfortunate.”
– ‘We’re better than this’ –
“I heard there was 59 or 60 ejections tonight in the ballpark,” Jones said on Monday. “It is what it is, right? I just go out and play baseball.
“It’s unfortunate that people need to resort to those type of epithets to degrade another human being. I’m trying to make a living for myself and for my family.”
Jones, who in 2016 won an award as the player “who best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field”, said mere stadium ejections were unlikely to deter fan behavior.
Jones told USA Today that fans found guilty should be hit with stringent fines or lifetime bans from the stadium.
“What they need to do is that instead of kicking them out of the stadium, they need to fine them 10 grand, 20 grand, 30 grand. Something that really hurts somebody. Make them pay in full. And if they don’t, take it out of their check,” Jones said.
“That’s how you hurt somebody. You suspend them from the stadium, what does that mean? It’s a slap on the wrist. That guy needs to be confronted, and he needs to pay for what he’s done.”
The incident has brought into focus baseball’s uneasy record with African-American athletes, 70 years after Jackie Robinson broke the race barrier to become the first black player in the major leagues. Just 7.1 percent of players on 2017 opening day rosters were black, the lowest percentage since 1958, according to a recent survey by USA Today.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh meanwhile said in a statement Monday’s incident was “unacceptable and not who we are as a city.”
“These words and actions have no place in Fenway, Boston, or anywhere. We are better than this,” Walsh said.
Tanisha Sullivan, president of the Boston chapter for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said the incident brought “shame on the city.”
“I’m just really sorry that Mr. Jones experienced what appears to be the worst of Boston last night,” Sullivan said.