The Red Sox on Wednesday released a statement acknowledging recent quotes from former MLB outfielder Torii Hunter about racism at Fenway Park. The club wrote that intolerance in the Boston sports scene is a real problem.
Hunter said he put no-trade clauses in his contracts so he wouldn't have to play in Boston, where he said he for years received racial abuse. He recalled a time when kids chanted the N-word at him during a game.
He's far from the only black player to encounter racism from fans at Fenway Park even in modern times. In 2017, for example, Red Sox fans used slurs toward then-Orioles outfielder Adam Jones and threw peanuts at him.
"Last year there were 7 reported incidents at Fenway Park where fans used racial slurs," wrote the Red Sox in their statement Wednesday. "Those are just the ones we know about. And it's not just players. It happens to the dedicated Black employees who work for us on game days."
Torii Hunter was appreciative of the message sent by the Red Sox's statement.
"Change starts now," Hunter wrote. "Much love!"
Change starts now. Much love! ✊ ✊ ✊ ✊ ✊ https://t.co/aoUqmUX24E
— Torii Hunter (@toriihunter48) June 10, 2020
Fair or not, Boston carries a reputation of being unwelcoming to black people. The Red Sox were the last MLB team to sign a black player, integrating 12 years after the Brooklyn Dodgers signed Jackie Robinson.
Former owner Thomas Yawkey, who oversaw the team when it held off on adding a black player for more than decade, is still honored with a street named after him outside of Fenway Park.
The Red Sox have in recent years talked about changing Yawkey Way to recognize a figure not associated with racism but have yet to do so. Perhaps their acknowledgement of a problem in the Boston sports scene will portend movement on that end.