I’m a big fan of Torii Hunter. He named the 2003-2005 Minnesota outfield the Soul Patrol*. Earlier in the decade he said that he would like to play for the Yankees. (I can’t find the quote, but I remember it being true). And his most recent column on Jackie Robinson speaks volumes about his character and his knowledge of the game of baseball. What really stood out for me in the piece was this little tidbit:
For the past 10 years, I've been called the N-word, like, 20 times. Not in Minnesota. In Kansas City. In Boston.
Now, this isn’t surprising. What is surprising was that he actually would come out and say it. In my experience, Boston is one of the most racist towns I’ve ever set foot in. Every single minority person I’ve ever spoken to has expressed discomfort by simply being in Boston. Barry Bonds, who would turn his back on God himself for fame and the almighty dollar, said that “Boston is too racist for me” and “I couldn’t play there.” (Source) But when you tell someone from the commonwealth (what mouth breathers from Beantown and parts beyond call Massachusetts) that Boston is a racist town, they either vehemently deny it, or chuckle out of appreciation. I wish this weren't the case.
Racial strife in Kansas City is practically assumed. Any city that’s located in two states across a river is bound to have some inherent tension. But you would think that having far and away the highest ticket prices in all of baseball would keep the riff-raff out of Fenway Park, you’re wrong. Otherwise one of the great players in baseball wouldn’t be called racial epithets that we’d think Boston got over in the 70’s. Apparently they haven’t.
*When you do a google image search for “Soul Patrol” this guy comes up. Weird.
**When you do a google image search for "Boston Racists" the old Deadspin Matsuzaka post comes up with the picture I just used above. Cool! I'm not sure Buster Olney ever got enough credit for that scoop, by the way.