MLB Player Apologizes To Jackie Robinson’s Family For Disparaging Remarks Toward Tim Anderson

Daniel Shirey

“[I]t’s not often that a Yankees-White Sox game gets into the Dodgers news cycle in May,” but that all changed last weekend when Josh Donaldson, a white third baseman for the New York Yankees, called Tim Anderson, a Black shortstop for the White Sox, “Jackie.” 

Anderson’s teammates overheard the racist remark and the catcher for the White Sox, Yasmani Grandal, “confronted Donaldson in the batter’s box” during a latter inning, and the ensuing “exchange led to the benches clearing.” 

Donaldson admitted to calling Anderson “Jackie” as a direct reference to Jackie Robinson, explaining that “his quip was…an inside joke between him and Anderson that dated back to 2019, when Anderson invoked Robinson’s name as part of an interview he did with Sports Illustrated;” however, Anderson rejected that notion about being “in on the joke…telling reporters that he had told Donaldson to leave him alone if that’s how he intended to refer to him.”

Speaking with ESPN afterward, Anderson said, “He did say that, and I told him we never have to talk again…I don’t speak to you, you don’t speak to me, if that’s how you want to refer to me. I know, he knew exactly what he was doing because I already told him.”

In trying to defend himself, Donaldson stated, “[m]y meaning of that is not any term trying to be racist by any fat of the matter…Obviously, he deemed it disrespectful. And look, if he did, I apologize. That’s not what I was trying to do by any manner and that’s what happened.” 

After the game, Grandal spoke out further on the incident, “This game went through a period in time where a lot of those comments were meant, and I think we’re way past that…And it’s just unacceptable. I just thought it was a low blow and I want to make sure I’ve got my team’s back. There’s no way that you’re allowed to say something like that.”

In the aftermath, Major League Baseball (MLB) issued a fine for the “inappropriate comments” and also doled out a one-game suspension. In a statement, Senior Vice President for On-Field Operations Michael Hill said, “MLB has completed the process of speaking to the individuals involved in this incident. There is no dispute over what was said on the field. Regardless of Mr. Donaldson’s intent, the comment he directed toward Mr. Anderson was disrespectful and in poor judgment, particularly when viewed in the context of their prior interactions. In addition, Mr. Donaldson’s remark was a contributing factor in a bench-clearing incident between the teams, and warrants discipline.” 

Donaldson has since issued an apology to the Robinsons, “I would also like to apologize to Mrs. Rachel Robinson and the Jackie Robinson family for any distress this incident may have caused…Jackie was a true American hero and I hold his name in the highest regard.”

TOPICS:  Jackie Robinson Major League Baseball

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