KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — With the Negro Leagues museum as his backdrop, Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones said the recent racial taunting he endured in Boston shows there needs to be more dialogue about diversity.
Almost two weeks after he said he was called the N-word and had a bag of peanuts thrown in his direction at Fenway Park, the star said Saturday that he still grapples with the reality that “people aren’t afraid to show ugliness and hate right now.”
“I personally don’t understand it,” Jones said at Kansas City’s Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in announcing his $20,000 donation to the shrine — a gift he said he decided to make months ago, well before the Fenway ugliness he labeled “very unfortunate.”
“With incidents like this, it’s just a great time to talk about it,” 31-year-old Jones added, midway through his team’s weekend series against the Royals.
Red Sox officials have apologized and said that only one of 34 fans kicked out of the game in question was ejected for using foul language toward a player, and it wasn’t clear whether that was toward Jones. Boston police said the peanuts hit a nearby police officer, and Fenway security ejected the man who threw them out before he could be identified by authorities.
Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred quickly condemned the incidents and said all 30 teams are being surveyed as they consider putting in place league-wide guidelines for handling fans who make racist remarks.
Since the Fenway matter, other black players throughout the big leagues said it is a common occurrence to be subjected to such boorish fan behavior that Jones — a native of ethnically broad San Diego — called confounding.
“I just grew up, fortunately, in a diverse world, a diverse city. Some people don’t,” Jones said, adding that he has a bi-racial wife and a white mother-in-law. “Some people grow up in a culture of just like minds, around like beings. And that’s just how some people are taught growing up. I think it all goes back to how parents teach their kids.”
Jones insisted he doesn’t mind if fans “yell at us a little bit” or engage in “general banter,” provided the catcalls do not degenerate into obscenities or bigoted taunts.
Citing the NFL’s Colin Kaepernick’s taking a knee to protest what he called prevalent police brutality and a flawed justice system, Jones said he “was unafraid of any backlash that came with” speaking out. He dismissed any critics who might contend “you should just stick to making money and play ball” and sideline the activism.
“CEOs make a lot of money. A lot of people make a lot of money,” Jones said. “It’s not about the money. The money is great. If you’re able to perform in any job for a significant amount of time, you’re going to be compensated well. It doesn’t matter what you do.”
Tony Clark, the MLB players’ union head, said after attending Jones’ Kansas City event that while over-the-top fan conduct “has been around a long time,” he’s “excited that guys like Adam, with the platform that they have, have taken it upon themselves to voice their concerns and opinions.”
“I think as much as anything, it’s not a Boston issue,” Clark, who spent 15 seasons in the big leagues, told The Associated Press. “It’s unfortunate when (hateful fan outbursts) rear their head in the fashion that they did there in Boston. But we’re hopeful that as folks like Adam and others move themselves into the conversation, more progress can be made and we’re not having to have these kinds of conversations anymore.”