Chicago Cubs right fielder Jason Heyward was allegedly hit with racial slurs upon his return to the St. Louis Cardinals' Busch Stadium on Monday, but he wasn't personally aware of it.
Heyward said Tuesday he didn't hear any racially charged speech directed at him but added, "Honestly, I wasn't really listening," per CSN Chicago's Patrick Mooney.
The 26-year-old also downplayed the alleged abuse from fans, saying, per Mooney, "I don't feel like it's a story. It's something I've dealt with my whole life. Keep going and don't really give it any attention."
Kate Feldman of the New York Daily News initially reported Heyward was allegedly subjected to "N-word" hate speech during Monday's game, which the Cubs won 5-0. ESPN broadcast the game, and Feldman's report specified crowd mics picked up the slurs, not ESPN audio.
ESPN Director of Communications Ben Cafardo said on Twitter that ESPN has been reviewing the matter and hasn't found any evidence of the alleged slurs directed at Heyward.
Cardinals officials also began investigating the situation on Tuesday but also didn't find any evidence to back up the New York Daily News' claims, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Derrick Goold. Cubs outfielder Dexter Fowler played alongside Heyward for Monday's contest and, per Mooney, didn't hear racial slurs.
Heyward was booed throughout upon his return to St. Louis, where he'd played in 2015 and shone with a slash line of .293/.359/.439 at the plate and picked up a third Gold Glove Award.
Instead of returning to the Cardinals, Heyward opted to flee for their National League Central rival in the Windy City on a massive contract worth $184 million over eight years, per Spotrac. That naturally drew the ire of St. Louis' fanbase and culminated in a negative reception for Heyward on Monday.
Although the alleged racism is disturbing, Heyward didn't seem fazed by it and chalked it up to harassment that comes with the territory of being in an opposing ballpark. Nevertheless, it is worth the Cardinals and ESPN doing their due diligence to discourage such conduct from occurring in the future.