Torii Hunter Details Disturbing Racial Abuse in MLB Ballparks

Rob Bradford
June 09, 2020 - 9:07 am

Torii Hunter wanted to tell his story hoping it will help with the current conversation.

Throughout his 19-year major league career, the former outfielder made it a point to tell teams he did not want to be traded to Boston due to racially insensitive incidents. Appearing on the Greg Hill Show on WEEI in Boston on Tuesday, Hunter detailed his experiences and why chose to elaborate on them now via this platform.

"I would get it everywhere," Hunter said regarding comments of racial insensitivity. "Seattle. Kansas City. Kansas City once did something to validate it. When they called me the 'N' word standing over our dugout. Our whole team was almost going to jump this guy, but this guy's kid covered his mouth. The police right next to our dugout got up and took him to a back room, talked to him, interrogated him and banned him for life. That was cool. I was like, 'Wow, Kansas City took care of that.' But when I went to Boston it was so consistent. After a while, I just kind of shoved it off and I went out and play. I played with aggression though. I played like I really wanted to play well in Fenway. It has nothing to do with the Red Sox. It has nothing to do with the players. It has nothing to do with the organization. It really has nothing to do with the fans. But that's the issue when you hear that.

"This is my experience. So when people say, 'That's not true. Give me proof.' That's stupid. That's stupid. Because you have people saying it forever. We're not listening. It really dawned on me when I saw four or five kids chanting the 'N' word in the outfield. This is my story, and it's not a lie. When I heard 'N-word. N-word' just chanting my name, and I looked at these grown-ups and they are clapping and laughing. I'm pointing saying, 'Tell them to shut up. That's bad.' They can say, 'You suck Torii,' or ' You can't hit water if you fell out of a boat.' But that 'N' word I don't like. I'm from Pine Bluff, Arkansas and I hated it. So when I looked at the grown-ups and they didn't do anything. That's not a Red Sox issue. That's an issue in society.

"I'm just kind of like, 'OK, they're not going to say anything. These kids are now probably grown. They are probably CEOs of companies. They are probably the head of something.' And I can imagine these kids doing things to people of my skin color and mistreating them. That comes from the heart. Anything that comes out your mouth comes from the heart. Anything you put in your mouth going to go to your heart, but what comes out of your mouth comes from your heart. That's a deep-rooted issue and that's a family issue. It has nothing to do with the Red Sox. It has nothing to do with Boston Red Sox fans. It has something to do with society. That's why I got the no-trade clause, the list of teams, and I put Boston in there. I love Boston. I wanted to play there. It just hit me that I can't have my wife and my kids in this area. There is no way I can do that because I don't ever want them to go through that and if they do I don't know what I would do and I would be the angry black guy and that wouldn't be good."

Regarding the incident with the young fans, Hunter added, "I'm giving you my experience. I don't know about other guys' experiences, but you've heard other guys say they have been called that. I looked up and I looked at the whole situation. I was married with kids and I could see my wife, if I was ever to play there one day, I could see my wife not liking it. I never wanted them to ever go through it. No parents. Grown-ups all around them never said anything. That's what I looked at. The 'N' word, I've heard it before. I didn't like it. But when I saw grown-ups not stopping it ... I saw little kids stop his dad, put his hand over his mouth. But I didn't see grown-ups stopping little kid, which is the future which destroys everything."

As for why Hunter has decided to deliver the message now through this medium, he pointed to the ineffectiveness of bringing up such subjects over the years.

"I've said it even before this," he said. "I've said it for years to media and to different people and a lot of people know about it. This is over the last 15 years and really nobody has done anything about it because it's still happening to a lot of players around the league. Hopefully, people will hold each other accountable and when you see evil shine a light on it and cast it out."

He added, ""They talked about Philly. They talked about all these other places. Seattle. I have heard it in Seattle. I have heard it in Kansas City. I have heard it in different cities. It just so happened Boston was a lot. ... I've always been a guy who has been outspoken and trying to give both sides of it and have people understand but sometimes it didn't work out that way because if you take a piece of something I said and you put it in the media and you put it out of context you become the bad guy for not giving the whole story. I hated that in the media. But when you get on the radio show your voice is heard. If you listen to this whole radio show then you get more of an understanding of why. Me getting the no-trade clause was a permanent decision on a temporary situation. It wasn't my whole life. It was a situation I saw. I was like, 'Man, I don't know if I can do this.' I made a permanent decision on a temporary situation."

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