Major League Baseball has opened a probe after the Chicago White Sox accused New York Yankees infielder Josh Donaldson of making ‘racist’ remarks on the field.
White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson, who is black, was upset after Donaldson called him ‘Jackie’ during Saturday’s game in New York, which the Yankees won 7-5.
Donaldson admitted to making the comment — but insisted it was in reference to a 2019 Sports Illustrated story when Anderson likened himself to a current-day Jackie Robinson, the first black player to play in the modern Major Leagues.
‘He made a disrespectful comment,’ said Anderson, who was recently sanctioned himself by MLB after flipping off fans in Cleveland.
‘Basically tried to call me Jackie Robinson, ‘What’s up Jackie.’ I don’t play like that. I don’t need to play at all. I wasn’t really bothering nobody today, but he made the comment, and it was disrespectful, and I don’t think it was called for. It was unnecessary,’ added Anderson.
Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson (7) is restrained by teammates after the dugouts emptied in the fifth inning over alleged racist remarks by a Yankees player
Josh Donaldson admitted to making the comment — but insisted it was in reference to a 2019 Sports Illustrated story when Anderson likened himself to a current-day Jackie Robinson
White Sox manager Tony La Russa stood by his player, saying: ‘He made a racist comment, Donaldson. And that’s all I’m gonna say. … That’s as strong as it gets.’
Anderson, an All-Star who is among the leading black voices in baseball, told Sports Illustrated in 2019: ‘I kind of feel like today’s Jackie Robinson … because he changed the game, and I feel like I’m getting to a point to where I need to change the game.’
Donaldson admitted that in the first inning, ‘I called him Jackie.’
The white ballplayer also said he has ‘joked around’ with Anderson in the past using the same reference and mentioned the 2019 Sports Illustrated interview.
Robinson broke the MLB color barrier in 1947. Every team in the big leagues has retired his No. 42 to honor the struggle, sacrifice and social impact he had on the game and beyond.
‘My meaning of that is not any term trying to be racist by any fact of the matter,’ Donaldson said. ‘Obviously, he deemed it disrespectful,’ he said. ‘And look, if he did, I apologize. That´s not what I was trying to do by any manner and that´s what happened.’
Josh Donaldson of the New York Yankees talks with Aaron Hicks and umpire Will Little after a benches-clearing dispute with Yasmani Grandal #24 of the Chicago White Sox (not pictured)
Anderson is seen hitting a single in the first inning of Saturday’s game. He said that Anderson called him ‘Jackie’ in both the first and third innings of the game
Donaldson scrapped with Anderson on May 13 in Chicago after making a hard tag, and Anderson responded with a shove, resulting in the benches and bullpens clearing.
Donaldson said Saturday that he was ‘trying to defuse’ any lingering tension when the players crossed paths early in the game.
Donaldson made the ‘Jackie,’ comment in both the first and third innings on Saturday, according to Anderson, with the players arguing with each other in the third inning before they both were escorted off the field.
Benches emptied in the fifth inning after White Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal began to have words with Donaldson at the plate.
‘Believe me, you don’t want me to tell you guys what I told him,’ Grandal said to reporters afterwards.
Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson (7) is held back by third baseman Josh Harrison (5) in the fifth inning after the dugouts emptied against the New York Yankees
Jose Abreu #79 holds back Tim Anderson #7 of the Chicago White Sox after a benches-clearing dispute between Yasmani Grandal #24 of the Chicago White Sox (not pictured) Saturday
Giancarlo Stanton #27 holds back Josh Donaldson #28 of the New York Yankees after Donaldson’s benches-clearing dispute at Saturday’s game
The barking continued as relievers ran in from the bullpens and the benches emptied, with La Russa – a member of baseball’s Hall of Fame – also yelling at Donaldson.
Anderson also continued to shout at Donaldson while being restrained by White Sox slugger José Abreu and infielder Gavin Sheets. After a few minutes, umpires issued warnings to both sides and Donaldson struck out.
‘This game went through a period in time where a lot of those comments were meant, and I think we´re way past that,’ Grandal said after the game. ‘And it´s just unacceptable. I just thought it was a low blow and I want to make sure I´ve got my team´s back. There´s no way that you´re allowed to say something like that.’
Boone said of the incident: ‘I know … some talk of that. I´ve got to get to the bottom of it.’
The teams also had a benches-clearing incident on May 13 at Chicago after Donaldson made a hard tag on Anderson.
On May 13, Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson, left, and White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson traded barbs at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago
Donaldson said his ribbing on Saturday was meant to diffuse tensions following the May 13 incident.
‘I took responsibility for the tag, I wasn’t trying to do anything there,’ Donaldson said afterwards.
‘Today just trying to diffuse it, like make light, like, `Hey, we’re not trying to start any brawls,’ or anything like that. Obviously he deemed that it was disrespectful and, look, if he did, I apologize.
‘That’s not what I was trying to do by any manner and that’s what happened.’
Last season with Minnesota, Donaldson got into a spat with the White Sox when he appeared to yell ‘not sticky anymore’ – a reference to substances pitchers use to control the ball – after hitting a homer against Chicago ace Lucas Giolito.
The three-game series between the Yankees and the White Sox will conclude Sunday night in a nationally-televised game.