Teams visiting Fenway Park in Boston know to expect some chatter from the city’s infamous fans when they come through. However, Adam Jones couldn’t have foreseen the ugliness he encountered Monday night during the Birds’ 5-2 win over the Red Sox.
“A disrespectful fan threw a bag of peanuts at me,’’ the All-Star center fielder told USA Today’s Bob Nightengale after the game. “I was called the N-word a handful of times tonight. Thanks. Pretty awesome.’’
Jones said he got word that stadium officials kicked out as many as 60 fans for their behavior at the game.
Team officials confirmed the ugly allegations to the newspaper, saying they ejected that the peanut-thrower, along with about half that total mentioned by Jones. The O’s outfielder acknowledged that, but added that he felt the punishment for racist behavior should be more severe, possibly in the form of a hefty fine.
“You suspend them from the stadium, what does that mean? It’s a slap on the wrist. That guy needs to be confronted, and he needs to pay for what he’s done,” he told USA Today.
Jones has experienced racism at the hands of fans at Fenway before, though this was the worst case by far, he said. Other players have spoken up about similar issues. In January, the team’s own pitcher, David Price, said he was on the receiving end of some racist verbal abuse from angry fans during his disappointing first season with the club last year.
The franchise itself has a troubled history with racist policies and allegations of discriminatory treatment of employees, as detailed in this 2014 Boston Globe profile of black franchise Hall of Famer and former Red Sox coach Tommy Harper.
Jones, who in addition to being a successful black athlete, has been honored by Major League Baseball for being a great guy who gives back to his community, called the behavior by fans last night “pathetic.”
On Tuesday morning, Red Sox President Sam Kennedy issued a statement of apology on behalf of the franchise.
“The Red Sox want to publicly apologize to Adam Jones and the entire Orioles organization for what occurred at Fenway Park Monday night. No player should have an object thrown at him on the playing field, nor be subjected to any kind of racism at Fenway Park,” he 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.”
Kennedy’s statement also said fans who carry on that way will be subject to ejection from the ballpark, and that stadium security is still reviewing the incident from Monday night.
Beyond overt racism, there could be a little bit of envy from fans at play here, too. The Orioles jumped out to an American League-leading 16-8 record with last night’s win in Boston, distancing themselves further from the third-place 13-12 Red Sox. Jones recorded a run in the victory.
Hopefully, Boston can get its fans in check. The O’s have three more games at Fenway this week before they return to Camden Yards to play the Chicago White Sox this Friday.
This story has been updated with a response to the incident from Red Sox President Sam Kennedy.
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