Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins

Torii Hunter says racist fans kept him from playing in Boston

On Thursday morning, former major league outfielder Torii Hunter revealed why he had a no-trade clause to never land in Boston.

In the wake of what happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis last week, and a general state of unrest across the country, a group of retired African American MLB players gathered for a Zoom call with Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. All talked candidly about the racism, including Torii Hunter.

Hunter split 17 seasons as a major league regular with the Minnesota Twins, Los Angeles Angels and Detroit Tigers, winning nine Gold Gloves and earning five All-Star selections. He got a significant bite at the free agency apple with the Angels in the winter of 2007, then landed a two-year deal with the Tigers and a one-year deal back with the Twins for his final season in 2015.

Hunter appeared on ESPN Radio’s “Golic and Wingo” Thursday morning, to talk about the general state of the world and some of his experiences including clear racial profiling. But one thing he said, in terms of his experience as a player, stood out.

Due to racist fans in Boston, even little kids with their parents next to them apparently, calling him the n-word, Hunter made sure he had a no-trade clause blocking a trade to the Red Sox in every contract he had. Being an outfielder exposed him to taunting more than a lot of other players, but a line was definitely crossed in Hunter’s case.

When Hunter suffered a broken ankle at Fenway Park in 2005 as the Twins’ centerfielder, one can only imagine what was said to him from the stands. Deep in the unique center field triangle at Fenway, as Hunter chased a David Ortiz fly ball, the people are definitely close enough for him to have heard them.

It’s safe to say Hunter had similar experiences with racist fans calling him names in other road cities. But he seemed to cite Boston because it was worse than any other, and that he made sure he could never be traded there says everything.

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