The Boston Red Sox say they apologized to former Minnesota Twins striker Torii Hunter, who said he was under racial abuse while in Boston or playing in the famous Fenway City Park.
Hunter, a five-time All Star winner and a nine-time Golden Glove winner, told ESPN last week that “Bostons have called him the word 100 times. … From small children, and the adults next to them said nothing.”
Hunter said he did not negotiate contract clauses in his contracts while playing professional baseball, so he did not have to go to Boston.
“Torii Hunter’s experience is real,” the Red Sox said in a statement. “If you suspected him because you never heard him yourself, take him from us, it happens. Last year there were 7 reported incidents in Fenway Park in which fans used racial dirt. These are the only ones we know about.
Hunter is not the first professional athlete to complain about racial abuse in Boston. Baltimore Orioles striker Adam Jones said USA Today in 2017 he was racially abused and peanuts were thrown at him while he was playing in Boston. Celtic keeper Marcus Smart told ESPN The Undefeated, a network of networks covering the intersections of race, sport and culture, was called the n-word in the city.
The Red Sox have a troubled past when it comes to racing. They became the last Major League Baseball team to integrate 1959, 12 years after Jackie Robinson broke through the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
However, the team has been trying to fight that story in recent years. Yawkey Way, an iconic street named after the late Red Sox owner who resisted integration, was renamed in 2017 because of Yawkey’s racist legacy.
Both Hunter and Jones took to Twitter in support of a Red Sox statement released Wednesday.