While protests against police brutality continue around the country, several current and former athletes have come forward with stories of bigotry and discrimination they encountered over the course of their careers. On Thursday, Major League Baseball great Torii Hunter went on ESPN Radio’s Golic & Wingo and explained it was racism that kept him from ever wanting to play for the Boston Red Sox.
According to Jason Wilson of The Score, Hunter told the hosts he had a no-trade clause for most of his career that kept him from being dealt to the Red Sox. He added he didn’t want to go to Boston because whenever he played in that town, he was met with racial epithets and threats.
“I’ve been called the N-word in Boston 100 times, and I said something about it. (People would say) ‘Oh, he’s just a militant, he’s lying, this didn’t happen.’ No, it happened. All the time. From little kids. And grown-ups right next to them didn’t say anything.”
Hunter added his refusal to go to the Red Sox was about how that behavior was accepted by the people there. He also said despite the no-trade clause, he spent most of his career wishing he could play for the team. He simply couldn’t allow himself to go there because of the racism he encountered whenever he played in that town as a visitor.
As Wilson pointed out, Hunter isn’t the first to allege systemic racism in Boston. In 2017, Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones said he was often greeted with racial epithets. He also alleged fans routinely threw items at him. He added it felt to him as though he was singled out for the color of his skin and didn’t see his white teammates get the same kind of treatment.
The city has taken some steps in recent years to try and overcome what some have called widespread racism. Fenway Park, the home of the Red Sox, used to sit on a street known as Yawkey Way. The street’s name was changed to Jersey Street in 2018. Originally named for former owner Tom Yawkey, it was changed because of allegations of racism in the Yawkey family, who were reportedly seen as being against the integration of Major League Baseball.
Hunter made his appearance on ESPN radio as part of what is a bit of a media tour, talking about bigotry and discrimination in the sports world. Earlier this week, he appeared on a panel with other black players, a panel that was put together in response to the George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests which have broken out across the world.