Red Sox: 'Torii Hunter's experience is real'

June 10th, 2020

BOSTON – In a statement released via Twitter on Wednesday afternoon, the Red Sox made it clear they stand behind Torii Hunter and every African American who has felt racism at Fenway Park over the years. Moreover, the club expressed the determination to continue doing everything in its power to put a stop to it.

Hunter, a five-time All-Star who played in the Majors for 19 seasons, expressed in multiple recent interviews that he had no-trade clauses specific to the Red Sox for most of his career due to the racism he endured in Boston.

In his interviews, Hunter said these instances had nothing to do with the Red Sox as an organization or their players and didn’t represent the Boston fan base as a whole. Instead, Hunter called it a product of society.

The club’s statement read as follows:

“Torii Hunter’s experience is real. If you doubted him because you’ve never heard it yourself, take it from us, it happens. Last year there were 7 reported incidents at Fenway Park where fans used racial slurs. Those are just the ones we know about.

“And it’s not only players. It happens to the dedicated Black employees who work for us on game days. Their uniforms may be different, but their voices and experiences are just as important. We are grateful to anyone who has spoken up and remain committed to using our platform to amplify the many voices who are calling out injustice.

“There are well-established consequences for fans who use racial slurs and hate speech in our venue, and we know we have more work to do. The small group of fans does not represent who we are, but are rather a reflection of larger systemic issues that as an organization we need to address. True change starts from within, and as we identify how we can do better, please know we are listening. We hear you, and we believe you.”

The Red Sox were the last MLB team to integrate in 1959, and when the John Henry-Tom Werner-Larry Lucchino ownership group came on board in 2002, one of the first things they addressed publicly was the need for the franchise to be more sensitive and proactive regarding racial issues than it had been at any time in the club’s history.

In May 2017, the issue of race and Boston baseball became very public when then-Orioles outfielder Adam Jones told the USA Today’s Bob Nightengale after a game that some fans hurled racial taunts at him and one threw a bag of peanuts at him.

The Red Sox immediately enacted a more stringent policy at the ballpark to permanently eject fans who expressed racist sentiment. The club called on other fans to alert security to any such instances.

But as the Red Sox acknowledged on Wednesday, there is still more to do.