Racism lives under rocks and in dark places. It waits patiently for a chance to come out, the right opportunity to snarl its ugly message. That opportunity came when the Baltimore Orioles visited Boston, where there are plenty of rocks and dark places.
Orioles center fielder Adam Jones, one of the best players in baseball, became the target of some knuckleheads at Fenway Park, who screamed racial taunts at him. Normally, players ignore that stuff but these were so ugly, so off the chart, that Jones could not shrug them off. Three dozen people were thrown out of the ball park that night and the evacuations continued the next night when more ugliness surfaced in the stands.
All this happened in venerable Fenway Park, one of baseball’s shrines, home of the beloved Red Sox. This is where David Ortiz, a Red Sox star whose skin also happens to be black, urged the city to be strong in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings. Ortiz is gone from town now, replaced at Fenway by a bunch of hooligans who thought it would be cool to call Adam Jones names because, like Ortiz, his skin happens to be black.
This occurred in Boston, a town so proud of its legacy that traces back to the American Revolution. Here is where we had the Boston Tea Party to protest taxation without representation. Come walk the Freedom Trail. Over there is Faneuil Hall, a meeting place in those colonial times that became known as the Cradle of Liberty. The Boston Common fireworks on the Fourth of July are a patriotic party. Paul Revere rode the countryside, warning that the British were coming. This is the home of Harvard University, one of America’s most prestigious institutions of higher education.
And here in this iconic American city, they let Adam Jones have it good. Called him every name they could think of. And when he spoke out about it, Curt Schilling, who used to pitch in this town, called him out. Speaking on Breitbart Radio, his current platform after he was fired by ESPN for inappropriate political remarks. Schilling announced that Jones was lying. He insisted that kind of nastiness never could have happened. Well, here is some news for Schilling. It has happened before in his beloved Boston.
Check in with Bill Russell, perhaps the best defensive center in NBA history. Boston’s beloved Celtics created a dynasty with Russell right in the middle of it. Boston fans celebrated the multiple championships of the Celtics, manufactured by him and other players of color like Sam Jones, K.C. Jones and Satch Sanders on the beloved parquet floor of Boston Garden. They did not, however, embrace Russell, who experienced his own uncomfortable times in this town.
Ask C.C. Sabathia, who pitches for the New York Yankees. He confirmed that Boston can be an ugly place for visiting players who don’t happen to be white. They all know it, Sabathia said. Jones knew it and after a dozen years of hearing it, he decided to say something.
The Red Sox and Major League Baseball were so embarrassed by the affair that they apologized to Jones and the Orioles. Maybe the Red Sox had more to apologize for than just the Jones affair. Boston, remember, was the last major league baseball team to integrate when it added Pumpsie Green to the roster in 1959, 12 years after Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier in Brooklyn. And Robinson came to Brooklyn only after the Red Sox dismissed him from a tryout in 1945.
Adam Jones wasn’t imagining what happened to him, Curt Schilling’s opinion notwithstanding..