Ask Jackie Robinson about racism in baseball. It definitely exists, and it’s lasted for decades. Black players have gone on record to report racism, whether it came from teammates or fans. But, for every case reported how many have gone unreported? It was embarrassing enough that Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones was compelled to report hearing verbal slurs after a May 1 game between the Orioles and the Red Sox, but the fact that former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling shook off Jones’ comments and said he was “lying” is nothing more than business as usual for baseball when it comes to the subject.

Baltimore Orioles’ Adam Jones warms up before a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox, Tuesday, May 2, 2017, in Boston. Jones called the incident in which he said fans inside Fenway Park yelled racial slurs at him and threw a bag of peanuts in his direction was “unfortunate,” with no place in today’s game. Jones called the incident in which he said fans inside Fenway Park yelled racial slurs at him and threw a bag of peanuts in his direction was “unfortunate,” with no place in today’s game. Red Sox team president Sam Kennedy said 34 people were ejected for various reasons Monday night and reiterated the team’s “zero tolerance” policy for such incidents. He also said there would be extra security around the outfield on Tuesday night. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Boston’s Fenway Park has been notorious for churning out poor experiences for visiting Black players so Jones’ allegation really isn’t surprising—unless you’re asking Schilling.

“I think this is somebody creating a situation,” he said in reference to Jones’ allegations earlier this month on his Breitbart radio show.

Jones penned an article in “The Players’ Tribune” on May 19 that chronicled prior incidences in his career when he experienced racism. Evidently, he’s not new to the idea of racism and can identify when he’s being targeted.

Whether or not Jones’ allegations are true doesn’t matter, but the opinion that Schilling issued underscores how lightly baseball takes these claims. Schilling can downplay Jones’ comments but the angst over Schilling’s thinking is just a reflection of the bigotry surrounding baseball. Since its inception, baseball has remained a predominantly White sport. The same infiltration of Black players that seized football and basketball in the late 1960s and early ‘70s didn’t spill over into America’s pastime. Blacks have become icons in both the NBA and NFL where an allegation of racism goes miles further than in the MLB.  

Despite Boston issuing a team apology to Jones following the incident, Schilling still reserves the notion that Jones somehow made up the incident to start trouble. While several will take issues with Schilling’s reaction, he’s not the one to blame. It’s bigger than Schilling and it’s even bigger than Jones, but it’s unfortunate that the mindset will continue.

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO