When Jackie Robinson first stepped onto the baseball field, bringing Blackness back to baseball, he knew he would be subject to racist taunts from opponents, fans and even his teammates. But that was 1947 — seven decades ago. After everything this country’s been through, and as used to Blacks in pro sports as America has become, one would think veteran Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones wouldn’t experience the same thing. But that’s not the case.
Jones, 31, told USA Today that a fan threw a bag of peanuts at him Monday night in the dugout and he endured racial slurs while he was on the field. It wasn’t the first time he has experienced such treatment, he says, but what happened at the Orioles’ game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park was about the worst.
“Very unfortunate. I heard there was 59 or 60 ejections tonight in the ballpark,” said Jones. “It is what it is, right. I just go out and play baseball. It’s unfortunate that people need to resort to those types of epithets to degrade another human being. I’m trying to make a living for myself and for my family.”
Jones is one of just over 60 Black players in Major League Baseball this season.
The Red Sox confirmed that a fan did throw a bag of peanuts at Jones and was ejected from Fenway. Others were ejected but for several reasons. The ball club is investigating the incident. In a statement they apologized to Jones and fans of both teams.
“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 statement said. “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 behavior was also blasted by Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, who said fans who act in this fashion would face serious penalties.
“Any individual who behaves in such offensive fashion will be immediately removed from the ballpark and subject to further action,” Manfred said in a statement.
The slurs directed at Jones are not the only time in recent memory that a Black player has been subject to racist taunting by fans. Last year, Jones and first base coach Wayne Kirby had fans shout “go home and get some fried chicken” at them in Toronto at a Blue Jays game. Also last year, Chicago Cubs right fielder Jason Heyward was called a “n*gger” and jeered in St. Louis, where he played in 2015 before going to the Cubs, who won the World Series last October.