Racist Heckling of Baltimore All-Star Shows an Ugly Side of Boston

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    The Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox always play each other hard because they’re in the same division. Thanks to a few baseballs being thrown at Orioles’ star Manny Machado, some competitive early season games, and the recent antics from some of Boston’s faithful, the rivalry is expected to be quite the talking point for the rest of the sports year.

    “I was called the N-word a handful of times tonight,” said Baltimore’s All-Star center fielder Adam Jones. “A disrespectful fan threw a bag of peanuts at me.”

    USA Today reports that Jones was referring to the team’s recent series in Boston, where he was subjected to racist heckling, adding that it was one of the worst experiences of his 12-year MLB career.

    Although Boston has a few prestigious universities in the area, including Harvard, Northeastern, and Boston University, there are still some amoral fans that feel the need to shout racist epithets at professional athletes simply just doing their jobs. Of these college students, 77% have changed communities at least once, compared to just over half (56%) of those with only a high school diploma or less.

    “It’s different,” added Jones. “Very unfortunate. I heard there was 59 or 60 ejections tonight in the ballpark.”

    Racism involving Boston has been in the news recently, as Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update correspondent Michael Che pointed out the racism he experienced in the city, causing other public figures to come out in support of his comments. But, in addition to the recent rumors floating around, Boston has a deep history of racism within its sports franchises.

    “It had all varieties, old and new, and in their most virulent form,” said 11-time Boston Celtics NBA Champion Bill Russell. “The city had corrupt, city hall-crony racists, brick-throwing, ‘send-’em-back-to-Africa’ racists, and in the university areas phony radical-chic racists … Other than that, I liked the city.”

    According to The Washington Post, the Red Sox were the last team in the MLB to sign a black player, Elijah “Pumpsie” Green, who took the field at Fenway Park in 1959, 12 years after Jackie Robinson broke the MLB color barrier in 1947 and 10 years after Robinson became the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the National League.

    Boston even passed on the great Jackie Robinson and MLB Hall of Famer and 24-time All-Star Willie Mays. Had the Red Sox signed Mays, Boston’s outfield would have consisted of Mays and 19-times All-Star Ted Williams, almost guaranteeing a World Series victory and not waiting 86 years until 2004 to finally break the “curse.”

    Sportswriter Howard Bryant, in his 2002 book, Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in Boston,” said that many black baseball players required specific clauses in their contracts that guaranteed they would not be traded to Boston. For a breach of contract claim in these disputes, the player or plaintiff would have to prove four things including the formation of a contract, the plaintiff’s performance, the defendant’s breach, and the actual damages.

    “It’s unfortunate,” added Jones. “The best thing about myself is that I continue to move on, and still play the game hard. Let people be who they are. Let them show their true colors.”