During Wednesday night’s game between the Athletics and Red Sox, fans sitting behind Fenway Park’s “Green Monster” in left field unfurled a black banner with white text that read, “Racism is as American as Baseball.” Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe snapped a photo:
The fans, as Abraham noted, were quickly ejected and their banner confiscated.
Fenway Park is no stranger to issues concerning racism, as Orioles outfielder Adam Jones had racial slurs directed at him and had peanuts thrown at him earlier this year. Additionally, last month, Red Sox owner John Henry said he was “haunted” by the racist past of former owner Tom Yawkey. Henry suggested renaming Yawkey Way, the two-block street that runs from Brookline Avenue to Boylston Street.
A host of non-white players past and present have said they have experienced racism in Boston in particular. CC Sabathia said, “I’ve never been called the N-word” anywhere else but in Boston. He added, “We know. There’s 62 of us. We all know. When you go to Boston, expect it.”
Current Red Sox pitcher David Price said he has had racial slurs directed his way while in Boston. When center fielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. struggled in 2014, he said Boston fans directed racist taunts in his direction. All-time great slugger Barry Bonds said he would never play for the Red Sox because Boston is “too racist for me.”
The statement on the banner is a bit ambiguous, as it can be read as both pro-racism and anti-racism. However, given the above context and since racists rarely operate while openly admitting that they are racist, it is probabilistically reasonable to interpret it as an anti-racist statement. We’ll probably learn more about the intent as the ejected fans are likely to garner some press following the stunt.