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David Ortiz: Torii Hunter didn’t want to play for Red Sox because of racist taunts 05.17.17 at 4:18 pm ET
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David Ortiz says he doesn't think Boston fans are racist.  (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

David Ortiz says he doesn’t think Boston fans are racist. (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

Torii Hunter says he was heckled with racial taunts when he played at Fenway Park. The abuse was so bad, it dissuaded him from signing with the Red Sox, according to David Ortiz.

In an interview Wednesday on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines,” Ortiz said he tried to recruit Hunter when the former outfielder was a free agent one year.

“I tried to have him play with me in Boston one year when he was a free agent,” Ortiz said, via the New York Daily News. “And [the slurs he experiences] bothered him so much that was reason enough for him not to come and play.”

On May 2, Orioles centerfielder Adam Jones says the N-word was directed at him a “handful” of times at Fenway. Over the last two weeks, several black baseball players, including CC Sabathia, have relayed similar stories. The Red Sox have repeatedly condemned the reported behavior, with team president Sam Kennedy touting the club’s zero tolerance policy.

When asked Wednesday on “First Take” about his experiences in Boston, Ortiz said he doesn’t think a “couple of knuckleheads” should speak for the whole fan base –– echoing Pedro Martinez’s comments last week.

“In today’s day, I don’t think that’s what Boston represents,” Ortiz said. “I played in Boston for so long. I have never faced any racial situations over there. People are super nice over there. You sometimes get a couple of knuckleheads out there that get drink, get tipsy and then come out with that kind of stupidity. But I would tell athletes, ‘Don’t focus on that.’ That’s not what Boston is.”

Read More: Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz, Fenway Park, torii hunter
Red Sox ushers will wear ‘kind’ and ‘respectful’ pins for remainder of season 05.15.17 at 11:22 am ET
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The Red Sox say they're committed to fostering a safe environment at Fenway Park. (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)

The Red Sox say they’re committed to fostering a safe environment at Fenway Park. (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)

Red Sox ushers are going to look a little different for the rest of the season.

This past home stand against the Rays, Fenway Park staff members wore “kind” and “respectful” pins. According to Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe, they’ll be sporting them for all future home games as well.

The decision to have Red Sox security personnel wear the pins comes on the heels of two reported racial incidents at the ballpark. Two weeks ago, Orioles centerfielder Adam Jones said the N-word was directed at him a “handful” of times. One night later, the Red Sox banned a fan for life for directing a racial epithet towards another person in the stands.

In an interview last week on WEEI’s “Two Outs” podcast, Red Sox president Sam Kennedy said the team is committed to enforcing its zero tolerance policy against hateful language at Fenway Park.

“I don’t worry about it being a slippery slope. It’s the club’s right. We plan on doing it,” he said. “We have an obligation and a responsibility to make sure people who come to Fenway Park, regardless of your religion, your race, your sexual orientation, you feel comfortable at Fenway. That is our job. We need to be held accountable for that. That’s something that’s really important to John Henry, Tom Werner and to me and to the members of our front office. We want our fans to let us know if they feel uncomfortable. Nobody should feel intimidated by coming to a baseball game at Fenway Park. This is a place to come and relax and enjoy and feel comfortable. That’s what I worry about.”

 

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park,
Red Sox president Sam Kennedy on ‘Two Outs:’ Fenway’s zero tolerance policy isn’t a slippery slope 05.10.17 at 2:52 pm ET
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The Red Sox banned a fan for life last week for the first time under John Henry's ownership. (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)

The Red Sox banned a fan for life last week for the first time under John Henry’s ownership. (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)

When the Red Sox levied a lifetime ban on a fan last week for using a racial slur, team president Sam Kennedy touted the club’s zero tolerance policy. He said it covers all intolerant behavior, including the use of sexist and homophobic epithets.

Given the wide spectrum of language that falls under those umbrellas, some wonder whether the Red Sox are traveling down a slippery slope. While it’s important to discourage bigotry, stringent zero tolerance policies can also sometimes lead to overreaction.

In an interview on “Two Outs” with Steve Buckley and Alex Reimer, Red Sox president Sam Kennedy said he doesn’t share those concerns.

“I don’t worry about it being a slippery slope. It’s the club’s right. We plan on doing it,” he said. “We have an obligation and a responsibility to make sure people who come to Fenway Park, regardless of your religion, your race, your sexual orientation, you feel comfortable at Fenway. That is our job. We need to be held accountable for that. That’s something that’s really important to John Henry, Tom Werner and to me and to the members of our front office. We want our fans to let us know if they feel uncomfortable. Nobody should feel intimidated by coming to a baseball game at Fenway Park. This is a place to come and relax and enjoy and feel comfortable. That’s what I worry about.”

Red Sox spokeswoman Zineb Curran echoed Kennedy’s sentiments to WEEI.com Monday, saying the team intends to enforce the hardline rule. But she also added the organization will use discretion when appropriate.

Fan conduct at Fenway Park has been under scrutiny over the last week, as a result of the Adam Jones incident and lifetime ban. While those two events have brought the team’s zero tolerance policy to the forefront, Kennedy says it’s been in existence since John Henry purchased the franchise in late 2001. Over the last 15 years, the Red Sox have hired fan service ambassadors and representatives, who try to ensure everybody at Fenway Park is comfortable. The ownership group also banned crude anti-Yankees apparel, including shirts with homophobic innuendo.

“I think we all know why intolerance is out there and why it happens –– it’s unfortunate,” Kennedy said. “We recognize that it does happen, and we have a responsibility to address it and make sure that we do our part. And again, this is not about Fenway Park and Boston and New England. This is about society. This is everywhere in our culture. And we have to be honest with ourselves: this is a reflection of intolerance and ignorance that exists in 2017. We have to be honest with ourselves that it does happen in Boston and it does happen at Fenway Park and it happens at other sports venues. Those in leadership have to be accountable and have to address it head on.”

One of the steps the Red Sox have taken towards LGBT inclusion is Pride Night, which is scheduled for June 9 –– one day before the Pride Parade. A portion of the ticket proceeds go back towards Boston Pride, which advocates on behalf of the city’s LGBT community.

“It’s about raising awareness that the LGBT community is part of the Red Sox community,” Kennedy said. “We want to be welcoming. We want to make sure everyone knows that Fenway and the Red Sox are open to everyone coming here to enjoy.”

Read More: Alex Reimer, Fenway Park, Sam Kennedy, Steve Buckley
Red Sox explain how they’re enforcing lifetime ban against fan who used racial slur 05.08.17 at 1:51 pm ET
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The Red Sox banned a fan for life from Fenway Park last week. (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

The Red Sox banned a fan for life from Fenway Park last week. (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

Following the Adam Jones incident last week, the Red Sox released a statement touting the team’s zero tolerance policy towards offensive language at Fenway Park. The strict edict was put into practice Wednesday, when club president Sam Kennedy announced a fan had received a lifetime ban for directing a racial slur towards another person in attendance.

In a phone conversation with WEEI.com Monday, Red Sox spokeswoman Zineb Curran answered some of the lingering questions from last week’s events, including how the team plans to enforce the lifetime ban against the fan in question.

“We informed this person verbally and in writing, and we’ve also flagged their credit card from being able to purchase tickets from the organization moving forward,” she said. “Key security personnel are aware of who the individual is. What we’re not doing is posting this person’s picture and name at every gate. That’s not something we’re doing. We know this isn’t a perfect or infallible system. And we recognize that enforcing it will be a difficult thing to do. But if the person is willing to take a risk and come back to the ballpark, there are actions that can be taken if they’re caught.”

Those actions could include calling the police and charging the fan with trespassing.

Freelance writer Calvin Hennick, who reported the fan to security, told the Boston Globe he was at the game with his six-year-old son and father-in-law, both of whom are black. According to Hennick, a “middle-aged white man” leaned over to him and used a racial slur to describe the rendition of the national anthem, which was sung by a Kenyan woman.

When describing the incident to reporters, Kennedy said the team reserves the right to ban any fan “engaging in intolerant behavior,” including homophobic and sexist remarks. While the Red Sox intend to enforce the hardline policy, Curran said the team will also use discretion when appropriate.

“[Zero tolerance] applies to all violations of our code of conduct,” she explained. “That includes forms of hate speech. It’s not just a race issue, and it does apply to a variety of other violations as well. It’s not just the use of certain words. But we’ll evaluate those incidents on a case-by-case basis and determine in each case what the best course of action may be.”

Author’s Note: This post was updated to include information about what actions the Red Sox could take against the banned fan if he returns to Fenway Park. 

Read More: Adam Jones, Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park,
Adam Jones was taunted with racial slur at Fenway Park in 2013, two fans say 05.04.17 at 10:33 am ET
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Two fans say Adam Jones was taunted with a racial slur at Fenway Park in 2013. (Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports)

Two fans say Adam Jones was taunted with a racial slur at Fenway Park in 2013. (Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports)

Orioles center fielder Adam Jones was heckled with a racial slur at Fenway Park during a game in 2013, according to two fans who were in attendance.

After the Red Sox blew a ninth inning lead against the Orioles on April 10, 2013, Pat Bowlby says he moved down to the front row of the bleachers near the bullpen for the bottom of the frame. While there, he says he encountered an unruly fan, who shouted the N-word at Jones.

“[Joel] Hanrahan blew the save and then in the bottom of the 9th inning fans were pretty unruly –– because it’s Fenway and the save was just blown,” Bowlby told WEEI.com via phone. “And Jones was in center field and a lot of the crowd was dispersed, so basically I was in the front row right near the bullpen. That guy just became really unruly and was directing a lot of hate towards Adam Jones. At first, it just started like, ‘Oh, you suck.’ Then I heard him shout the N-word at him and he was just straight up flipping him off and his buddies were just laughing.”

Bowlby’s friend, Jon Travers, told WEEI.com he told the heckler to “knock it off,” but was ignored. Though Travers says others in the section appeared surprised to hear the racial epithet, nobody else approached the man. He left before the inning was over.

“I was kind of shocked security didn’t intervene, because I’ve seen security intervene for dumber things than this,” Bowlby says.

Following the game that night, Bowlby sent out a string of tweets to Jones, apologizing for the fan’s alleged behavior.

Bowlby also later tweeted out a photo of the person he identified as the one making racial slurs.

Jones responded to Bowlby, saying the taunts “never bother him.”

In addition to the time-stamped tweets, Bowlby provided WEEI.com with a photograph to prove he was at the game in question.

Following the Orioles’ 5-2 victory over the Red Sox Monday, Jones told USA Today a handful of racial epithets and bag of peanuts were hurled in his direction. “I was called the N-word a handful of times tonight. Thanks. Pretty awesome,” he said.

The Red Sox released a statement Tuesday condemning the alleged actions. Team president Sam Kennedy confirmed to WEEI a higher-than-usual 34 people were ejected from the contest, including the peanut thrower. He would not say whether any individuals who called Jones the N-word were removed from the stadium.

Four fans who were seated in the bleachers during Monday’s game told WEEI.com they didn’t hear the N-word shouted in Jones’ direction. The Orioles centerfielder was seen gesturing towards fans in the outfield bleachers at various points in the eighth and ninth innings.

On Wednesday, Kennedy said the Red Sox banned a fan for life after he had directed a racial slur towards another person in the stands prior to Tuesday’s contest. Calvin Hennick, who reported the alleged incident to security, said to the Boston Globe he was at the game with his six-year-old son and father-in-law, both of whom are black. According to Hennick, a “middle-aged white man” leaned over to him and used a racial slur to describe the rendition of the national anthem, which was sung by a Kenyan woman.

“It’s disheartening, saddening, maddening,’’ Kennedy said of the reported incident. “That said, we have to recognize that this exists in our culture, it exists in Boston, and it exists in other cities around the world. It’s not an indictment on Boston and this marketplace, it’s an indictment on the ignorant people and intolerant people who utter these words and say these things and they need to be held accountable.’’

Read More: Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park
CC Sabathia says Fenway Park is the only place he’s been called the N-word in his career 05.02.17 at 4:26 pm ET
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Yankees hurler CC Sabathia says he’s been taunted with racial slurs at Fenway Park.

When asked Tuesday about Orioles outfielder Adam Jones, who says fans in attendance called him the N-word a “handful” of times Monday, Sabathia explained Boston’s unsavory reputation among African-American players.

Following the Orioles’ 5-2 victory over the Red Sox Monday, Jones spoke with USA Today’s Bob Nightengale about his experience at the ballpark.

“A disrespectful fan threw a bag of peanuts at me,” he said. “I was called the N-word a handful of times tonight. Thanks. Pretty awesome.”

The Red Sox issued a statement Tuesday, saying they were “sickened by the conduct of an ignorant few.” In an interview with WEEI’s OM&F, Red Sox president Sam Kennedy said the team was taking Jones at his word.

“The truth is, we don’t who said what,” he explained. “It’s hard to identify individuals when you have a sports venue with thousands and thousands of people but again we feel accountable and feel terrible that something like this could happen at Fenway. It’s not what we’re about.”

Kennedy confirmed a higher-than-usual 34 fans were ejected from the ballpark Tuesday, but wouldn’t say whether anybody was removed after taunting Jones. Mayor Marty Walsh and Governor Charlie Baker issued separate statements condemning the alleged behavior.

Read More: Boston Red Sox, C.C. Sabathia, Fenway Park, New York Yankees
No reason to doubt Adam Jones about hearing racist taunts at Fenway Park at 3:20 pm ET
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Adam Jones said he heard the N-word a "handful of times" at Fenway Park Monday. (Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports)

Adam Jones (left) said he heard the N-word a “handful of times” at Fenway Park Monday. (Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports)

The Fenway Park Race Truthers who say Adam Jones lied about hearing racist taunts must take off their tinfoil hats and answer one simple question:  Why would he make it up?

Following the Orioles’ 5-2 victory Monday over the Red Sox, in which the hometown nine committed three errors and a base running blunder in a despicable eighth inning, Jones told USA Today a handful of racial epithets and bag of peanuts were hurled in his direction. “I was called the N-word a handful of times tonight. Thanks. Pretty awesome,” he said.

Jones’ comments elicited responses from Mayor Marty Walsh and Governor Charlie Baker, who both condemned the reported behavior in separate remarks Tuesday. The Red Sox released a statement of their own, saying the team is “sickened by the conduct of an ignorant few.”

Like almost every other major metropolitan area in the country, Boston is saddled with a racist past. But unlike other cities that have been able to shed that label, it continues to be pilloried as such. In turn, some Bostonians have taken a defensive posture when it comes to race-related topics, interpreting any reported instances of racism in their city as a personal attack.

That likely explains why some folks are intent on harboring doubt around Jones’ claims. The MMQB’s Albert Breer claims he’s never heard anybody yell a slur at Fenway Park, which puts him at odds with black players who say they’ve had different experiences. Earlier this year, David Price said he was sometimes subjected to racial barbs while he was warming up in the bullpen prior to games. While he was playing, former outfielder Torii Hunter said he “regularly heard” racist taunts at Fenway and Jackie Bradley Jr. also said recently he’s been exposed to them as well.

And on Tuesday, Yankees hurler CC Sabathia said Boston is the only place he’s been called the N-word in his career. In this game of telephone, the black players who have played at Fenway seem more believable than the white sportswriter.

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Read More: Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park
Top 10 most memorable moments of Alex Rodriguez’s career at Fenway Park 08.09.16 at 9:04 am ET
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Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez will play his final game with the Yankees on Friday, but not before taking part in a three-game series against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

Rodriguez, 41, has been a villain to Boston sports fans for over a decade now. He agreed to a trade to the Red Sox in 2003 before the MLBPA stopped the deal and Rodriguez ended up wearing pinstripes the following season. He instantly became a main component of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, often having his best games at Fenway. He averaged .287 with 29 home runs and 88 RBIs in 131 career games at the ballpark.

Here are the top 10 moments from Alex Rodriguez’s time at Fenway Park.

10. May 1, 2016: Rodriguez homers, doubles to give Yankees lead twice

Rodriguez hit a two-run home run off of David Price in the third inning to give New York a 3-1 lead and then doubled home two more runs in the fifth to give the Yankees the lead again. Not even his four RBIs were enough however, as the Red Sox came back for an 8-7 win.

9. April 21, 2007: Rodriguez homers twice, but Red Sox complete comeback

Rodriguez’s two home runs gave him a record-tying 12 in the first 15 games of the season. He homered in the fourth and fifth inning to give New York a 5-2 lead, but Boston would pull off the come-from-behind win with five runs in the eighth frame. Rodriguez had four RBIs and three runs in the performance.

8. April 30, 2016: Rodriguez gives bat to young fan after homer over Green Monster

You may not like Rodriguez very much, but you have to respect this move. After homering in the second inning, Rodriguez kept his promise he made to a young fan and gave him his bat. The boy was visiting from Arizona following the death of his father, and he had been welcomed by the Red Sox as well, getting the chance to meet David Ortiz.

“I was on deck and the kid said to me, ‘Mr. Rodriguez, can I have your batting gloves?’ ” Rodriguez said. “I was about to hit, so I said, ‘I’ll do you one better; if I hit a home run, this is your bat. I’ll make you that promise.’ ”

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Read More: Alex Rodriguez, Fenway Park, New York Yankees,
Commissioner notes: Rob Manfred says not so fast to netting at Fenway Park 11.10.15 at 10:43 am ET
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Commissioner Rob Manfred  (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Commissioner Rob Manfred (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

BOCA RATON, Fla. — Speaking at the general managers’ meetings Tuesday morning, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred touched on a variety of subjects currently impacting the game.

Included in the conversation was the topic of whether or not netting would be implemented in stadiums after numerous incidents this past season in which fans were severely injured by flying equipment.

Manfred pointed out, however, that there is no guarantee any changes will be made to the areas closest to home plate.

“I think as you go out and look at ballparks it becomes evident that a simple, uniformed net to the edge of the dugout is not workable given the variation in the designs of the stadium,” he said. “It’s going to be a little more complicated than that if in fact we move ahead. We’re going to have a full conversation about this at the owners’ meeting next week. I don’t want to prejudge the outcome beyond that. But I do think a simple rule is probably difficult given the variations that exist in our stadiums.”

– Manfred was very adamant that the strike zone, as it is being called, is more satisfactory that it’s ever been thanks to improved technology.

“The umpires calling of the strike zone is probably more consistent that it’s ever been in the history of the game,” Manfred said. “I think the application of technology, going back to when Sandy Alderson was running the umpiring department, has overall time brought consistency in that area.

“The issue of the affect on offense, what I said at the beginning of the year was that I thought we needed, before we made a judgement and started talking about changes, another year of data. Every once in a while even I get to be right. What I mean by that was that we had a really interesting uptick in offense late in the year this year. A increase in scoring. We’re not going to jump too quickly on this one. We really want to understand what’s happening in the game. Our game is too great to be willy-nilly making changes thinking you’re going to address a problem that may not be a problem at all.”

– Manfred is still supportive of the qualifying offer system, which is in it’s fourth offseason:

“We were trying to identify a group of players that were significant enough where the loss merited the team that lost the player getting compensation, and that the player would be in high enough demand that the compensation availability would not ruin his market,” Manfred noted. “The fact that players who say, ‘No,’ go out into the market and get contracts even though the signing club has given up a draft choice kind of says to me we got it right. I don’t think you need somebody to accept. I think that so far we have successfully identified a group of players who were significant losses to the teams they were leaving and were high enough quality that they could bear the burden of draft choice compensation in the market and still get a good contract.”

– In regards to the news that Colorado shortstop Jose Reyes has been arrested for domestic abuse, Manfred cited the recently-implemented domestic violence policy (enacted in August).

“We felt good about the policy when we negotiated it. This will be the first test, and I think it will stand the test,” he said.

Here are the guidelines of the policy:

Investigations:
The Commissisoner’s Office will invesigate all allegations of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse involving members of the baseball community. The Commissioner may place an accused player on paid administrative leave for up to seven days while allegations are investigated. Players may challenge any decision before the arbitration panel.

Discipline:
The Commissioner will decide on appropriate discipline, with no minimum or maximum penalty under the policy. Players may challenge such decisions to the arbitration panel.

Training, Education and Resources:
All players will be provided education about domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse in both English and Spanish at regular intervals. Resources to players’ families — including referral information, websites, hotline numbers and outreach facilities — will be made available, along with a confidential 24-hour helpline.
An annual program of community outreach will be developed. It may include public service announcements featuring players, domestic violence awareness days at ballparks and other activities designed to spread awareness on the issues.

– Manfred insisted MLB is doing everything it’s power to stay ahead of possible advances in performance enhancing drug use.

“We are constantly vigilant on the issue of the using of performance-enhancing drugs. It’s not just that we have a testing program that’s now on auto-pilot. We spend an inordinate amount of time working with groups to make sure we know what is the very latest developments that are going on in respect to performance-enhancing drugs. I don’t know how to say it more clearly is that whether or not we have an uptick in offense, we are constantly vigilant on this topic.”

Read More: Fenway Park, Major League Baseball, Rob Manfred,
Fenway Park to host Billy Joel concert June 26 01.30.14 at 12:08 pm ET
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The Red Sox announced Thursday that Billy Joel will play a concert at Fenway Park on June 26. Tickets go on sale to the general public Feb. 8.

“We look forward to hosting the music icon at Fenway in June for what we know will be a memorable performance,” Red Sox executive vice president/COO Sam Kennedy said in a statement.

Joel is a six-time Grammy Award winner and the sixth best-selling recording artist of all-time, with worldwide sales of more than 150 million albums.

“It is an honor to bring Billy Joel back to Boston and have him play historic Fenway Park,” Live Nation New England president Don Law said. “His music transcends generations. This will be an event that fans will remember for years to come.”

Read More: Bill Joel, Fenway Park,
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