It's one thing for fans to boo the visiting team. But it's an entirely different story for fans to berate visiting players with racists taunts.
The latter was the disgusting case last night, when several Boston Red Sox fans hurled racial slurs at Baltimore Orioles' All-Star center fielder Adam Jones at Fenway Park.
"A disrespectful fan threw a bag of peanuts at me," Jones told USA TODAY Sports after the Orioles' 5-2 road win. "I was called the N-word a handful of times tonight. Thanks. Pretty awesome."
The newspaper reports that Jones is one of only 62 African-Americans on Major League Baseball's opening-day rosters since the season started last month. Jones said that he has been the target of racist hecklers in Boston in the past, but declared that this was one of the worst experiences that he had to endure over the course of his 12-year MLB career.
“It’s different,’’ he continued telling USA TODAY Sports. “Very unfortunate. I heard there was 59 or 60 ejections tonight in the ballpark. It is what it is, right? I just go out and play baseball. It’s unfortunate that people need to resort to those type of epithets to degrade another human being. I’m trying to make a living for myself and for my family."
He added: “It’s unfortunate. The best thing about myself is that I continue to move on, and still play the game hard. Let people be who they are. Let them show their true colors.’’
The total number of fans officially ejected from the game has yet to be reported and corroborated with Jones's estimations. But after having a whole bag of peanuts thrown at him last night, the All-Star center fielder implored the MLB to buckle down on such fans with stiffer punishments than just a mere ejection. He wants heavy fines levied.
“It’s pathetic," said Jones, 31. “It’s called a coward. What they need to do is that instead of kicking them out of the stadium, they need to fine them 10 grand, 20 grand, 30 grand. Something that really hurts somebody. Make them pay in full. And if they don’t, take it out of their check."
He also spoke about the precarious position that he and his fellow players are in when a situation like that occurs.
“At the end of the day, when you throw an object onto the field of play, the player has no idea what it is," Jones added. "What if something hit me right in the eye and I can’t play baseball anymore. Then what? I just wear it? No."
Couldn't agree more. It's time for major sports leagues to develop zero-tolerance for fans' flagrant acts ... especially when involving blatant racism.
For what it's worth, the Red Sox organization did offer the following press release statement, apologizing to Jones and the Orioles.
"The Red Sox want to publicly apologize to Adam Jones and the entire Orioles organization for what occurred at Fenway Park Monday night," the team wrote on its website. "No player should have an object thrown at him on the playing field, nor be subjected to any kind of racism at Fenway Park. 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. Such conduct should be reported immediately to Red Sox security, and any spectator behaving in this manner forfeits his/her right to remain in the ballpark, and may be subject to further action. Our review of last night's events is ongoing."
Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker also tweeted the following, condemning those fans for their racist taunts.
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(Photo: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)