The Red Sox vowed to crack down on racism at Fenway Park after former All-Star Torii Hunter claimed he was called the N-word there “100 times,” including by “little kids” whose parents failed to intervene.
Hunter said it became so bad that he called for a no-trade clause in his contract that prevented the veteran outfielder, who played 19 seasons, from being sent to Boston.
“Torii Hunter’s experience is real,” the ballclub said in a statement Wednesday, adding that there were seven reported incidents of fans using racial slurs last season and “those are just the ones we know about.”
“And it’s not only players. It happens to dedicated Black employees who work for us on game days. Their uniforms may be different, but their voices and experiences are just as important. This small group of fans does not represent who we are, but are rather a reflection of larger systemic issues that as an organization we need to address.
Hunter made the comments to ESPN’s “Golic and Wingo” last week as part of a conversation about the George Floyd protests and Black Lives Matter movement.
“I’ve been called the N-word in Boston 100 times, and I said something about it,” Hunter said. “So I had a no-trade clause in everything I had not to go to Boston. … Not because of all the people, not because of the teammates, not because of the front office. Because if you’re doing that and it’s allowed amongst the people, I don’t want to be there. And that’s why I had a no-trade clause to Boston. Every contract I’ve ever had. And I always wanted to play for them. It sucks.”
In response to the Red Sox statement, the 44-year-old former Minnesota Twins star said, “Change starts now. Much love!”
The Red Sox have a history of fans screaming racial slurs at players. In 2017 former Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones said he was called the “N-word a handful of times” and had a bag of peanuts thrown at him, causing the team to apologize then and ban one fan from the ballpark for life.
But the Red Sox aren’t the only club that players have complained about. Earlier this week, Cleveland Indians outfielder Delino DeShields Jr. told ESPN that he was called the N-word by two fans at Yankee Stadium in 2015, while a rookie with the Texas Rangers.
The Yankees have not publicly addressed this alleged incident.
Only 7.7 percent of MLB players were black in 2019, down from at least 15 percent between 1971 and 1997.