Red Sox apologize for fans' racial taunts toward Adam Jones

May 2, 2017, 7:15 PM

— -- BOSTON -- One day after Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones heard racial taunts during a game at Fenway Park, he received a standing ovation from the Boston Red Sox crowd in his first at-bat of Tuesday's game.

The Fenway faithful, as well as some of the Red Sox players applauded Jones as he strode to the batters box. Chris Sale, who started the game for Boston, stepped off the mound to allow for a longer reception. Jones struck out to end his at-bat.

Earlier in the day, Red Sox principal owner John Henry and team president Sam Kennedy met with the Orioles center fielder to assure him they are taking steps to prevent Monday's incident from ever happening again.

One possible solution: Lifetime bans for racially intolerant fans.

"We want to make sure that our fans know, and the [Boston] market knows, that offensive language, racial taunts, slurs are unacceptable," Kennedy said Tuesday before the Red Sox and O's continued their four-game series. "If you do it, you're going to be ejected. If you do it, you're going to be subject to having your tickets revoked for a year, maybe for life. We're going to look at that. We haven't made any firm decisions, but it just can't happen."

Jones couldn't pinpoint exactly when in Monday night's game he heard the slurs, which he said included the "N-word a handful of times." He also had a bag of peanuts thrown in his direction, although it hit a police officer instead.

According to Jones, this wasn't the first time he's been subjected to such treatment at Fenway. This time, though, Jones said he felt "compelled to speak out."

"It was just the right time," Jones said. "It was something that was on my mind. It was frustrating for me. I'm a grown man with a family to raise, so I'm not just going to let nobody just sit there and berate me. I'm a grown man. Where I come from, you say things like that, you put the gloves on and you go after it. Obviously in the real world you can't do that, especially in my field, so just hopefully the awareness comes, the people around in the stands will hold other fans accountable."

Within the baseball community, support for Jones has been strong. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and players' union chief Tony Clark released statements condemning inappropriate conduct at ballparks. Henry and Kennedy apologized to Jones. Boston mayor Marty Walsh and police chief Bill Evans took steps to increase law enforcement at Tuesday night's game, including uniformed and undercover police officers.

Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker also took to Twitter to decry Monday's incident.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he would have considered pulling his team off the field if Jones had told him during the game about what happened.

"I can't sit here and profess to know how Adam feels; I've never been black," Showalter said. "I'm not going to sit here and try to act like I know. I can tell you how it makes me feel. Only thing I got on him about was he didn't let me know. I wish he would have let me know. It's not the only place that it happens.

"In our society, I am not surprised. It is unfortunate, and it is sad and it is like a disease."

Jones said he heard directly from Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts and pitcher David Price. Betts posted this tweet in support of Jones:

Meanwhile, Henry and Kennedy met with Red Sox players, several of whom acknowledged they have heard racial taunts at Fenway and in other ballparks, according to Kennedy.

"Has it happened to me before? Yes. It's happened to probably the majority of black players in the game -- and not just black players," said outfielder Chris Young, one of four African-American players on the Red Sox's 40-man roster. "It happens to Latin guys as well, or anyone who's different from whatever the norm is considered to be. But it's very upsetting. It's very upsetting that it happens in environments where you're surrounded by 35,000 other people, you have kids in the stadium. This kind of stuff is passed down. Hate is taught."

Although Jones noted that racism exists everywhere, he cited "a long history of these incidents in Boston." Speaking to reporters in New York, Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia said Boston is the only place he has heard the N-word. The Red Sox were the last major-league team to integrate -- 12 years after Jackie Robinson's debut. Jones mentioned the intolerance that Boston Celtics great Bill Russell dealt with during his career.

Kennedy, who grew up one mile from Fenway Park, defended Boston's reputation. He said there were 34 ejections Monday night, about twice as many as usual, but there wasn't an incident of racial taunting reported.

"I can tell you, when (the current Red Sox ownership group) arrived in 2002, I think one of the most important things with John Henry, (chairman) Tom Werner and (former president) Larry Lucchino did was acknowledge the shameful past of the Boston Red Sox," Kennedy said. "There's a reputation of maybe not being the most friendly and hospitable environment, and we've worked really hard to change that. We want to open Fenway Park to everyone. Everyone should feel comfortable at Fenway Park, no matter your race, your religion, political beliefs, sexual, you are all welcome at Fenway."

The Red Sox have a "zero tolerance" policy when it comes to racial slurs, Kennedy said. But in order to enforce it, Kennedy said the team relies on fans reporting intolerant behavior.

"The fans can be our best allies in this because they can help us identify behavior going on around the ballpark that we may not be able to identify even just being 20 feet away," Kennedy said.

The Orioles have three more games left at Fenway this week. What kind of reception does Jones expect?

"Boo me, tell me I suck," Jones said. "Just keep the racial stuff out of it."