Marlins' Lewis Brinson Says He Still Hears Slur After Rockies' 'Dinger' Explanation

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVAugust 10, 2021

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - JULY 28: Lewis Brinson #25 of the Miami Marlins looks on after a play against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on July 28, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)
Will Newton/Getty Images

For Miami Marlins outfielder Lewis Brinson, what may ultimately prove to be an innocuous situation doesn't erase the abuse he encounters elsewhere away from the diamond.

The Colorado Rockies announced Sunday they were investigating what was initially believed to be a fan using the N-word while Brinson was at the plate. The Rockies followed up to say the fan in question had been calling toward their mascot, Dinger.

Brinson told reporters that he still finds himself hearing a slur when re-watching the video, though that's not what he wants to hear.

"I personally keep hearing the N-word," Brinson said Monday. "It's not that I want to hear it."

He did say that if the fan truly was calling for Dinger, he's "sorry for the backlash and unnecessary attention [the fan is] getting right now." However, he added that seeing the N-word directed toward him is a very real occurrence:

"They don't show their face and don't tag themselves on their posts or the DM they send me, but I do get it, once a month, twice a month. I know other Black players get it more. We do get called the n-word on social media. It's disgusting. We see it and try to block it out, but it's a disgusting, degrading word that brings nothing but hate and cowardliness.
"There's no place for it. It does happen and I don't want to just throw that under the rug. I want everybody to know that it does happen to Black players, quite often, way too often."

The lack of diversity across all levels in MLB has been a pressing issue for years.

One consequence of that is Black players feeling isolated on matters relating to racial or social injustice.

Six-time All-Star CC Sabathia reflected in his memoir, Till the End, on how Black players across baseball often hang out or message one another as a means of "self-defense, self-preservation" because of their relatively small number:

"There were plenty of years in Cleveland when I was the only Black player on the roster; New York was better, but even with the Yankees, most seasons I was one of a maximum of four or five Black players on the 24-man roster. That's a lonely place to be at any point in your career, but especially if you're a younger guy trying to prove yourself in the game. You want to hold onto your job and you want to feel like you're part of the team, not an outcast, not the 'angry Black guy.'"

MLB's problems with diversity can also create issues at the top.

Amid the nationwide protests against systemic racism and police brutality during the summer of 2020, some questioned the length of time the league waited to post an official statement condemning "racism and racial injustice."

Los Angeles Dodgers star Mookie Betts told reporters at the time he didn't think "baseball has done enough" for the wider Black Lives Matter movement.

Brinson said that what shouldn't get lost in the fallout from Sunday is that racist taunts directed at MLB stars aren't an anomaly.

"And a lot of Black players can attest to that," he said. "It’s forgotten about way too much and needs to be stopped."