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Jim Rice Answers Torii Hunter's Claims About Racism at Fenway Park

May 2, 2008 – 6:30 PM
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Josh Alper

Josh Alper %BloggerTitle%

When Torii Hunter recounted instances of fans at Fenway Park yelling racial slurs at him last month, response was varied. There was the time-tested belief that Boston is generally a racist city, accusations that Hunter wasn't telling the truth and, via David Ortiz among others, a thought that it was more about being on the opposing team than true hatred.

Now we're hearing from Jim Rice. As a black former Red Sox outfielder, Rice is in a good position to enlighten us about the goings-on in that part of Fenway. He took to his blog to respond to Hunter's claims. He said he never heard anything negative in Boston nor on the road, interesting because one would imagine the times he played in being more racially charged than recent years. He went on from there.

I think for a situation to escalate to that level, you have to do something to incite that type of behavior. If you talk about the fans or acknowledge their taunts by responding to them, that is when the situation can deteriorate into the type of behavior Torii alluded to. Again, I can't say for certain what Torii experienced or what led up to it, you would have to ask him about that.

What exactly does a centerfielder have to do to incite racial slurs?

If all people are yelling is "You Suck!" or somesuch, how would responding to them make it okay to elevate things to a baser level of discourse? I realize Rice didn't say it's okay to use such language but he does say he can't say what Hunter experienced, so it seems a bit uncharitable to put the blame on him.

Since we've got little reason to disbelieve either Rice or Hunter, does that mean that things in the stands of major league stadiums have gotten worse over time? I've been to games in a dozen or so stadiums, including Fenway, and heard objectionable things. Never anything racial but there does seem to be a coarsening that I don't remember from 15 years ago. That (and why Rice's blog is hosted by a tire company) are issues that probably bear some watching.

(H/T SportsbyBrooks)
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