Red Sox confirm Torii Hunter's account of racial slurs at Fenway Park: 'Take it from us, it happens'

Jack Baer
Writer

The Boston Red Sox have responded to former Minnesota Twins star Torii Hunter singling out Fenway Park as a source of frequent racial slurs, and the team is taking Hunter’s side.

Days after Hunter told ESPN’s Golic & Wingo that he specifically had a no-trade clause to Boston because of the racial slurs he would hear at Fenway Park, the Red Sox released a statement saying Hunter’s experience is real.

In the statement, the Red Sox said there were seven reported incidents involving racial slurs at Fenway last season, plus more a strong likelihood of more unreported incidents. The team also noted its Black employees face similar treatment on gamedays.

While conceding they have more work to do on hate speech, the Red Sox noted there are “well-established consequences” for fans who use racial slurs at Fenway. Fans have been banned from the park for life in the past after being caught using such language.

Hunter would soon signal his approval of the statement.

Fenway Park has long had a reputation among major leaguers for hostility toward Black players. Former Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones became the rare active player to call it out in 2017 when he said he was called the N-word multiple times at a game in Boston (and was rewarded with incessant questioning and doubt from Sports Illustrated reporter Albert Breer who claimed to have never heard the word at Fenway).

The Red Sox won't deny that players here the N-word at Fenway Park. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

It’s not often you see a team go out of its way to confirm that its own hallowed stadium is the site of frequent hate speech, but that’s how things have shifted in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. Athletes, including baseball players, are speaking out more than ever and teams have tried to show they are at least listening.

Torii Hunter: ‘I’ve been called the N-word in Boston 100 times’

Hunter shone a spotlight on that Fenway reputation last Friday when he recalled some memories about road games in Boston.

From MassLive's Christopher Smith:

“I’ve been called the N-word in Boston 100 times,” Hunter told Golic and Wingo. “And I said something about it. ‘No, he’s just a militant. He’s lying, This didn’t happen.’ No, it happened — all the time. From little kids. And grownups right next to them, didn’t say anything."

“So I had a no-trade clause in everything I had not to go to Boston,” Hunter said. “Not because of all the people. Not because of teammates. Not because of the front office. Because if you’re doing that and allowing it amongst the people, I don’t want to be there. And that’s why I had a no-trade clause to Boston in every contract I’ve ever had. And I always wanted to play for them. And it sucks."

Hunter would later note he also heard the N-word at road games against the likes of the Seattle Mariners, Kansas City Royals and Philadelphia Phillies, but none were as “consistent” as Boston.

Those comments have now prompted a response from the team. We’ll see if it takes any new action against such slurs when fans are allowed back into Fenway Park.

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