BOSTON, MA – There’s nothing quite like your first baseball game; hearing the crack of the bat, smelling the fresh-cut outfield grass, tasting your first ballpark hot dog and, of course, hearing casual racism from a fan.
Wait, that last one isn’t typical, right? Either way, that’s what happened at Boston’s Fenway Park on Tuesday.
Calvin Hennick took his son to his first Red Sox game and was not expecting what they saw.
“We were there with my father-in-law, who’s from Haiti, and my son, who’s biracial,” said Hennick. “A young woman from Kenya sang the national anthem and the white middle-aged fan next to me leaned over after the song and said that she sang too long and she n-worded it up.”
Hennick was shocked by what he had heard. He thought about telling Fenway Park staff about it, but wanted to make sure that he heard the man correctly first.
“I asked him to repeat it and he did,” said Hennick. “Then I repeated it to make sure that I’d heard him correctly and he said, ‘That’s right and I stand by it,’ so he was proud of himself for having said that.”
Hennick eventually reported the man, who was kicked out of the stadium.
On Wednesday, the Red Sox also chose to ban him from the stadium for life.
“I’m here to send a message loud and clear that the treatment of others that you’ve been reading about here lately is unacceptable,” said Red Sox President Sam Kennedy.
The incident happened just a day after Baltimore Orioles’ outfielder Adam Jones was called a racial slur by one fan in the stands and had a bag of peanuts thrown at him by another. Jones is used to hostile environments during away games, but says the slur went a bit too far.
“I don’t need any special treatment, treat me as normal, just keep the racist stuff out of there,” said Jones. “Boo me, tell me I suck, please. That’s what I personally want because that’s the way the game is supposed to be.”
Hennick believes the man was trying to make a statement in the wake of the Adam Jones incident.
“I thought surely someone wouldn’t say this to me sitting there with my mixed race family the day after the Adam Jones thing,” said Hennick. “Looking back, I think the man kind of wanted to prove a point. He wanted to say I can say whatever I want now.”
So take a lesson from this man’s ignorance. The next time you’re enjoying your peanuts and Cracker Jacks in the stands for any sporting event, go ahead and cheer your team, boo their opponents, even throw a little trash talking in there. But please don’t cross the line into racism. If you do, you might just end up having to watch games from home.