Red Sox Address Racist Abuse at Fenway Park After Torii Hunter's Comments

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistJune 10, 2020

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 5: An aerial view of Fenway Park during a game between the Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins on September 5, 2019 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

The Boston Red Sox issued a statement Wednesday confirming there were seven reports of fans using racial slurs at Fenway Park during the 2019 campaign and calling former Major League outfielder Torii Hunter's experience "real":

Red Sox @RedSox

This is real. https://t.co/gMp8MEPb46

Hunter offered appreciation for the message from the American League East team:

Torii Hunter @toriihunter48

Change starts now. Much love!๐Ÿ™๐Ÿพ๐Ÿ‘๐ŸพโœŠ๐ŸพโœŠ๐ŸปโœŠ๐ŸฝโœŠ๐ŸฟโœŠ๐Ÿผ https://t.co/aoUqmUX24E

The statement comes after Hunter said on Golic & Wingoย on June 4 he had a no-trade clause to Boston because of his experiences with racial abuse at Fenway. He expanded on those experiences on Tuesday's episode of the Greg Hill Show on WEEI:

"But when I went to Boston it was so consistent," he said. "After a while, I just kind of shoved it off and I went out and played. I played with aggression though. I played like I really wanted to play well in Fenway. It has nothing to do with the Red Sox. It has nothing to do with the players. It has nothing to do with the organization. It really has nothing to do with the fans. But that's the issue when you hear that."

The Red Sox's statement noted racism happens to black employees as well and made a point of telling anyone who doubted Hunter's comments that they were real.

Such language was notable because Hunter said people have confronted him asking for proof in the past:

"This is my experience. So when people say, 'That's not true. Give me proof,' that's stupid. That's stupid. Because you have people saying it forever. We're not listening. It really dawned on me when I saw four or five kids chanting the N-word in the outfield. This is my story and it's not a lie. When I heard 'N-word, N-word' just chanting my name and I looked at these grown-ups and they are clapping and laughing. I'm pointing saying, 'Tell them to shut up. That's bad.' They can say, 'You suck Torii,' or ' You can't hit water if you fell out of a boat.' But that N-word I don't like. I'm from Pine Bluff, Arkansas and I hated it. So when I looked at the grown-ups and they didn't do anything, that's not a Red Sox issue. That's an issue in society."

Hunter played from 1998 through 2015 for the Minnesota Twins, Los Angeles Angels and Detroit Tigers. He was a five-time All-Star, nine-time Gold Glover and two-time Silver Slugger who spent his entire career in the American League.

That means he was a visitor in Boston for 19 straight years and surely encountered racial abuse from a number of fans in Fenway Park.

Hunter said he's told stories of the racism he encountered in the past but hopes "people will hold each other accountable and when you see evil shine a light on it and cast it out."

His comments come as nationwide protests against racism and police brutality have dominated the news cycle in the wake of the May 25 killing of George Floyd.