Red Sox players need to speak out about the perception of Boston as a racist city.
On Thursday night, an All-Star cast of NFL standouts dropped a stunning video that called on the league to call racism by its name, condemn police brutality that disproportionately targets black people, and support peaceful protests by players.
Notably, Patriots cornerback and reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore was among these voices. And in light of recent comments from former MLB All-Star Torii Hunter, Red Sox players need to follow their New England neighbor’s lead and put forth their own statement speaking directly to Boston’s reputation among some groups for racial hostility.
If you missed it, Hunter revealed on Thursday that he was ready to veto any potential trade to Boston over racial concerns.
What should Red Sox players in reaction to Torii Hunter’s revelation?
An obvious move here would be Red Sox players stepping up and speaking about this uncomfortable topic.
Hunter — who broke onto the scene with the Twins in the same city in which George Floyd was killed — witnessed startling racist abuse in Boston firsthand. Going back decades, Bill Russell was adamant that he didn’t play “for Boston”; he played for his Celtics teammates, owing to his lukewarm regard for a city that could never fully accept him in an era he dominated.
It’s also not the first time racism and the Red Sox have intersected. As recently as 2017, Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones called out fans at Fenway for taunting him with racist chants during a game. The team later apologized to Jones.
Whether it’s fair or unfair to call all of Boston a “racist city” in 2020 is not precisely the issue here.
Instead, it’s about the Red Sox joining this rising tide with something more than just platitudes and PR speak. Taking a page from the powerful video Gilmore and his NFL cohorts published this week, players like Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, and Jackie Bradley Jr. have a huge opportunity before them to reclaim the narrative.
Major League Baseball has plenty of other problems right now, what with owners and players locked in a fierce financial standoff that risks torpedoing the entire 2020 season, but a little boldness can go a long way. The Red Sox are a singularly beloved institution in Boston. Their stars wield tremendous influence.
They simply have to seize it in the name of what’s right.