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Benches clear after Josh Donaldson calls Tim Anderson ‘Jackie’

José Abreu restrains Tim Anderson after a benches-clearing dispute between Yasmani Grandal and Josh Donaldson. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
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Benches cleared during the game between the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox on Saturday after the Yankees’ Josh Donaldson called White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson “Jackie,” a comment that offended Anderson and was called racist by Chicago Manager Tony La Russa.

“He just made a disrespectful comment,” Anderson, who is Black, said of the comments, which began in the first inning of the Yankees’ 7-5 victory in the Bronx. “Basically he was trying to call me Jackie Robinson: ‘What’s up, Jackie?’ I don’t play like that. I don’t really play at all. I wasn’t really going to bother nobody today, but he made the comment and you know it was disrespectful and I don’t think it was called for. It was unnecessary.”

Anderson said Donaldson called him “Jackie” twice during the game. “I spared him that time, and then it happened again,” Anderson said. “It was just uncalled for.”

Donaldson, who is White, said he was referring to a 2019 interview in which Anderson said he felt like “today’s Jackie Robinson” as he described to Sports Illustrated that he was “getting to a point where I need to change the game.” Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947. Donaldson told reporters that the two had joked about the interview in the past.

Tensions boiled over in the third and fifth innings. In the third, Donaldson and Anderson exchanged comments as Donaldson rounded second base after making the final out of the inning. Yankees Manager Aaron Boone escorted Donaldson from the field and third base coach Joe McEwing did the same for Anderson.

Life was a ball with Roger Angell. How lucky we were to read about it.

In the fifth inning, White Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal confronted Donaldson as he stepped to the plate for an at-bat. Players from both dugouts and bullpens congregated on the field, and Anderson was restrained by teammates at one point.

“He made a racist comment, Donaldson, and that’s all I’m going to say,” La Russa said afterward. ESPN and Newsday reported that Major League Baseball was looking into the incident.

Donaldson confirmed that he had greeted Anderson by saying “What’s up, Jackie?” in the first inning, claiming he thought it was an inside joke the two shared.

Donaldson told reporters that he would be open to discussing the matter with Anderson and added that he had explained his comment to his teammates.

“My meaning of that is not any term trying to be racist by any fact of the matter,” Donaldson said (via ESPN). “Obviously, he deemed it disrespectful. And look, if he did, I apologize. That’s not what I was trying to do by any manner and that’s what happened.”

Donaldson and Anderson had a bases-clearing incident earlier this season, when they had to be separated at third base during a May 13 game in which Anderson slid into the base with Donaldson covering on a pickoff attempt and applying what Anderson deemed to be an overly hard tag.

The two teams play a doubleheader Sunday.