Good for the Boston Red Sox. They acted quickly, they acted decisively, they acted with sincerity.

Anyone who has followed the Sox during the past 20 years, including former general manager Dan Duquette’s tenure, knows they run their shop without any of the racial biases and societal clumsiness of days gone by.

Put another way, these are not your father’s Tom Yawkey-era Red Sox.

But we do need to have a discussion about the last few words of Sam Kennedy’s statement.

The ignorant few.

They might be few. They’re certainly ignorant. But they really do get around, don’t you think? Adam Jones isn’t the first African-American player who has reported this type of thing. Sox pitcher David Price has reported problems, as did Carl Crawford during his brief tenure with the Red Sox. Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia, speaking Tuesday with the New York media, said, “When I was with Cleveland, it was bad. Really bad. You get called all kind of names, called the N-word when you go to Boston.”


Jones, speaking Tuesday night before the Orioles’ 5-2 loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park, added: “I could just nitpick and say here’s bad, but there’s a long history of these kind of incidents in Boston. And I’ve spoken with various players of different eras, and a lot of things they’ve told me I can’t say.”

Are all these guys lying? Is that what it is? Price? Sabathia? They’re just making it all up?

Jones went so far as to say, “I heard a Bill Russell story today, and Bill Russell won 11 championships here, and the things that I heard that happened to him based solely on his skin color … it’s unfortunate, man.”

Now, you can remind Jones that Russell played his last game in 1969 and maybe times have changed. Except that whatever level of enlightenment you might think we’ve reached apparently hasn’t reached the “ignorant few” who keep tossing out the N-bombs.

But here’s the problem: Every time the ignorant few do their handiwork, another episode of “Boston is a Racist City” gets played out on the national stage. Part of the reason for that is history: Boston still is paying the price for the decades of racism that was the Red Sox Way. In 1945, the Sox offered a sham tryout to Negro Leaguers Sam Jethroe, Marvin Williams and a fellow named Jackie Robinson, and then didn’t have the decency to even contact them. When the Red Sox finally promoted Pumpsie Green to the big leagues in 1959, they became the last big league team to integrate. Even the Bruins had a black player before the Red Sox, promoting Willie O’Ree to the NHL in 1958.

And then came the 1970s and the busing issue. It was ugly and intimate: As much as it might have been whites against blacks, it also was neighborhoods against neighborhoods.


Racial flare-ups still happen. Remember Dee Brown being wrestled to the floor at the Wellesley Post Office? Remember the hysteria when evil Charles Stuart killed his pregnant wife and then made up a story about an African-American assailant?

I don’t believe Boston is “a racist city,” though I don’t know, as a white man, if I’m qualified to say that. I also don’t believe Boston is “a homophobic city,” but I am an openly gay man who receives the occasional nasty email. I just dismiss it as stuff that comes from the few … the ignorant.

I’ll add, too, the national media sometimes acts with frightening daftness when attempting to weigh in on race relations in Boston.

A couple of for-instances: When Jacoby Brissett emerged last fall as the first African-American to start at quarterback for the Patriots, it wasn’t because the team devoted decades to denying opportunities to African-American passers.

And when Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward received a rousing ovation when he was introduced at the Garden this past January, it wasn’t because he’s a white guy whose impending free agency could land him in Boston next season. Celtics fans used the same come-hither approach last offseason with Kevin Durant. Kevin Durant is black.

But when Adam Jones dares to tell the media that somebody in the Fenway Park stands directed an N-bomb at him, don’t make matters worse by asking for proof.


“I heard what I heard, and my ears are my ears,” Jones said. “Walk in my shoes and you’ll understand it. And for people to defend other people in acts like this shows that there’s a bigger problem.”

I haven’t heard anybody “defending” the few and the ignorant, but Jones is absolutely correct in that we haven’t walked in his shoes.

But what we can do is listen. And calling Adam Jones a liar isn’t listening. It’s enabling.

So listen to the man, please, and keep the discussion going.

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