T his is not just about Fenway.
This is not just about one drunk guy.
This is not just about Major League Baseball.
For me, this is about my three-year-old son. He doesn’t know everything that happened a few weeks ago in Boston, but he knows enough. He knows that somebody threw a bag of peanuts at Daddy while he was playing in the game. He knows that somebody called Daddy a hateful word that you should never say to anybody. He doesn’t understand why, but he knows what happened.
It breaks my heart that he had to find out about hate at three years old. I was lucky enough to be shielded from this stuff for most of my life. Growing up in San Diego, I had white, black and Latino friends, and I honestly hardly ever thought about race.
It wasn’t until I was 19 years old, playing AA ball in Springfield, Missouri, that a white person called me the n-word straight to my face. I was walking home with a teammate after dinner, and this older guy on a bike came riding past, yelling out racist insults at us for no reason.
Of course, he didn’t stop. He didn’t engage with us. He didn’t look us in the eye. He pedaled away as quick as he could. That’s always how it happens.
I remember being shocked, thinking, This stuff really still happens? In 2005?
I mean, I was a kid. I was naive. But my teammate was from Georgia, and he was used to it. He just shrugged and said, “Man, don’t even worry about it. Some people are just stupid.”
Well, it’s 2017, and some people are still just stupid. I’ve heard plenty of stuff on a baseball field over the years. You expect trash talk from fans. Sometimes you even enjoy it.
But to be out there playing the game you love, and to hear somebody call you the n-word?
To have peanuts thrown at you, like you’re not even a human being?
Forget about, “Well in hip-hop, they say….”
Forget about, “Well the guy was just drunk.”
Forget about, “Well I’ve never heard that stuff at Fenway before.”
This is not a sports debate show. This is my real life. It happened.
And it’s just point-blank disgusting.
How am I supposed to talk to my son about what happened? Ten years from now, he’ll be 13 years old, and if he Googles his dad, this incident will probably come up. He’ll read a lot of confusing things.
Maybe he’ll read about how some people didn’t even believe that it really happened.
Maybe he’ll read about how the fans at Fenway gave his dad a standing ovation the next night.
Maybe he’ll read about what happened right before that standing ovation, when a Red Sox fan was ejected for using a racial slur toward the Kenyan woman who sang the national anthem.
What is he going to make of all that? Deep down, are people good? Are they bad? How should he see the world? He’s too young to fully understand now, so I sat down and recorded this video so that, years from now, when he looks up what happened, he hears it from his father.