In the past, Adam Jones has said he’s been “cussed out all day” while playing in Boston, but on Monday, his treatment at Fenway Park took a more disturbing turn. After a 5-2 win by his Orioles, the five-time all-star claimed that he was “called the n-word a handful of times” by Red Sox fans, who also threw a bag of peanuts at him.
“It’s different,’’ Jones said of Monday’s events (via Bob Nightengale of USA Today). “Very unfortunate. I heard there was 59 or 60 ejections tonight in the ballpark. 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.
“It’s unfortunate. 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.’’
Police on Tuesday put the number of ejections at 34, including the person who threw the peanuts. The Red Sox called the behavior “inexcusable” and apologized to Jones, with Boston Mayor Marty Walsh chiming in to say, “We are better than this.” The two teams play each other again Tuesday night.
“The Red Sox want to publicly apologize to Adam Jones and the entire Orioles organization for what occurred at Fenway Park Monday night,” team president Sam Kennedy said in a statement. “No player should have an object thrown at him on the playing field, not 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. Such conduct should be reported immediately to Red Sox security and any spectator behaving in this manner forfeits his/her rights to remain in the ballpark and may be subject to further action. Our review of last night’s events is ongoing.”
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred also issued a statement, calling the events “completely unacceptable.”
“The racist words and actions directed at Adam Jones at Fenway Park last night are completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated at any of our ballparks. My office has been in contact with the Red Sox, and the club has made it clear that they will not tolerate this inexcusable behavior. Our 30 clubs will continue to work with fans and security to provide a family-friendly environment. Any individual who behaves in such offensive fashion will be immediately removed from the ballpark and subject to further action.“The behavior of these few ignorant individuals does not reflect the millions of great baseball fans who attend our games.”
Calling the fan who was ejected for throwing peanuts “disrespectful” and “a coward,” Jones reportedly expressed hope that a more severe punishment would be levied. “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.”
“You suspend them from the stadium, what does that mean? It’s a slap on the wrist,” Jones added.
Jones noted that players have “no idea” what objects are when they are thrown “onto the field of play.” He wondered aloud what might happen if he were to be hit in the eye and lost his ability to play baseball professionally. “Then what? I just wear it? No,” he said.
Earlier this season, tensions mounted between the Orioles and Red Sox after Baltimore’s Manny Machado injured Boston’s Dustin Pedroia on a hard slide into second base, forcing him from a game. Later in that series, played at the O’s home of Camden Yards, Red Sox pitcher Matt Barnes threw a pitch toward Machado’s head, although he claimed the ball accidentally got away from him.
On Monday, Baltimore starter Dylan Bundy hit Boston’s Mookie Betts on the hip with a pitch, leading to speculation that retaliation may have been the motive. Meanwhile, Jones made several sparkling defensive plays after his leaping grab in the World Baseball Classic (on a Machado drive) was arguably the signature moment of the USA’s march to the championship.
Jones has spoken in the past about race in baseball. As Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protests were making NFL headlines last fall, the outfielder said that few black MLB players were likely to emulate the quarterback’s example because baseball “is a white man’s sport.” He added, “We already have two strikes against us already, so you might as well not kick yourself out of the game.”
Walsh said in a statement that “this is 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.”
In January, Red Sox pitcher David Price said that during last season, when he was struggling while in the first year of a huge contract he signed with Boston, he experienced racial taunting at Fenway. “Your ignorance is not going to affect what I’m trying to do,” he told the Boston Globe. “But I feel sad it’s still out there.”