On May 1, the Baltimore Orioles played the Boston Red Sox at historic Fenway Park in Boston. Adam Jones stepped out onto the same field where players such as Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, and David Ortiz made names for themselves. He ran to his position in center field, where he has played for 12 years in the Major Leagues, and he was berated with racist taunts from Red Sox fans.
Jones is not the first player to come forward about being taunted for their skin color at Fenway Park. Yankees starting pitcher C.C Sabathia said, “I’ve never been called the N-word’ anywhere but in Boston.” I find it hard to believe only Red Sox fans are the ones taunting players because of their skin color. ESPN Texas Rangers outfielder Delino DeShields said that he was subjected to racist comments in 2015 at Yankee Stadium. The fact that we still have to deal with situations like these 70 years after Jackie Robinson played in his first game is disheartening to me.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has said he is committed to increasing the participation of African-Americans in the sport. On opening day in 2013, only 8.5 percent of the league was Black, and while Major League Baseball is creating great programs like the Play Ball and The RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) initiatives that give kids who wouldn’t usually have the opportunity to play baseball a chance, the league has a long way to go. In the 2016 MLB draft, 18 percent of the young baseball players drafted were Black, the highest percentage of Black players to be drafted in over 20 years. These initiatives, while they are just a first step, seem to be paying off.
The Red Sox Team President Sam Kennedy released a statement prior to the game on May 2 saying, “We want to make sure that our fans know, and the [Boston] market knows, that offensive language, racial taunts, slurs are unacceptable,” Kennedy said before the second game of the Red Sox-Orioles Series. “If you do it, you’re going to be ejected. If you do it, you’re going to be subject to having your tickets revoked for a year, maybe for life. We’re going to look at that. We haven’t made any firm decisions, but it just can’t happen.”
I still believe the Red Sox fans are the best fans on earth. They have consistently bought every ticket at Fenway Park for 820 games straight. For over ten years, every single seat has been filled. They never gave up on a team that hadn’t won for 86 years straight, keeping the Faith after an Error by Bill Buckner and Crushing home runs by Bucky Dent and Aaron Boone. The Sox finally broke through and have won the most championships in the 21st century. But when I hear something like this happen to a very likable player in Adam Jones, I felt guilty to be a Red Sox’s fan; I felt guilty that people who cheered for the same team I did would talk that way about another person because of the color of their skin.
Red Sox Star outfielder Mookie Betts spoke out about the situation on Twitter, “Fact: I’m Black too Literally stand up for @SimplyAJ10 [ Adam Jones] tonight and say no to racism. We as @RedSox and @MLB fans are better than this.” Red Sox fans did just this. On Adam Jones’s first time up at bat on May 2, the Boston faithful stood up and gave him a standing ovation. Chris Sale, the starting pitcher for the Red Sox, who usually works very fast, stepped of the mound and acknowledged the ovation. Sox fans did not cheer because they liked him or his team, they cheered because he’s a human being who shouldn’t have been treated the way he was the night before. Jones expressed his gratitude towards the Red Sox Fans after the game, “I appreciate what [the fans] did,” he said. “I have never on the road gotten any ovations or anything like that, so it just caught me off guard a little bit.” I can officially say that I am a proud Red Sox fan and will be celebrating when they win the World Series in October of this year.
PHOTO BY WIKI COMMONS