Major League Baseball has issued a one-game suspension to New York Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson over his allegedly racist Jackie Robinson reference to Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson during Saturday’s game.
Donaldson said he twice called Anderson by ‘Jackie’ – as in Robinson, who famously broke MLB’s color barrier in 1947 – during the Yankees’ 7-5 win on Saturday. The benches and bullpens emptied as tensions escalated.
Anderson, one of baseball’s leading Black voices and an All-Star shortstop, said it was a ‘disrespectful comment.’ White Sox manager Tony La Russa said it was racist, and Anderson agreed.
‘Basically, it was trying to call me Jackie Robinson. Like, ”What’s up, Jackie?”’ Anderson said after Saturday’s game.
Donaldson, who is white, said he had used the ‘Jackie’ reference in the past with Anderson, who had said he viewed himself as a potential modern-day Robinson in a 2019 interview with Sports Illustrated.
‘My meaning of that is not any term trying to be racist by any fact of the matter,’ Donaldson said Saturday.
‘Obviously, he deemed it disrespectful,’ Donaldson 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.’
The punishment was announced by Michael Hill, the senior vice president of on-field operations for MLB.
‘MLB has completed the process of speaking to the individuals involved in this incident. There is no dispute over what was said on the field. Regardless of Mr. Donaldson´s intent, the comment he directed toward Mr. Anderson was disrespectful and in poor judgment, particularly when viewed in the context of their prior interactions,’ Hill said in a statement.
‘In addition, Mr. Donaldson’s remark was a contributing factor in a bench-clearing incident between the teams, and warrants discipline,’ he said.
Major League Baseball has issued a one-game suspension to New York Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson (left) over his allegedly racist Jackie Robinson reference to Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson (right) during Saturday’s game
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
Anderson and Donaldson did not speak with the media on Sunday, when the White Sox swept a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium.
The All-Star shortstop started the second game and was booed by fans, with some chanting ‘Jackie’ at him. He hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning of a 5-0 win and then put his finger to his lips in a hushing gesture as he rounded the bases.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone said he talked to Donaldson after Saturday’s game and believed his player’s explanation for why he made the ‘Jackie’ remark – but he also said he thought Donaldson shouldn´t have used the term.
‘I think with what´s going on between the two players and between the two teams over the last week or two, I certainly understand how that would be sensitive and understand the reaction,’ Boone said. ‘I also understand Josh has been very forthcoming with the history of it and the context of it. So I don´t believe there was any malicious intent in that regard.’
‘But this is just my opinion – [that’s] somewhere he should not be going,’ he said.
Donaldson had clashed with the White Sox on multiple occasions before this weekend.
The benches also emptied on May 13 after Anderson shoved Donaldson following a hard tag in Chicago.
White Sox ace Lucas Giolito used an expletive in calling Donaldson a ‘pest’ last year after Donaldson appeared to yell ‘Not sticky anymore!’ after a first-inning homer for Minnesota – a reference to MLB cracking down on pitchers using sticky substances on baseballs.
Tim Anderson #7 of the Chicago White Sox rounds the bases after hitting a three-run home run during the eighth inning of Game Two of a doubleheader against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on May 22, 2022 in the Bronx
White Sox manager Tony La Russa said he thinks Donaldson’s comment was ‘racist’
On Saturday, White Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal confronted Donaldson before a fifth-inning at-bat, leading to a benches-clearing incident in which no punches were thrown and no one was ejected.
‘In this clubhouse, we have TA’s back in everything,’ White Sox closer Liam Hendriks said. ‘And that was just a completely unacceptable thing.’
Hendriks, who is white, used an expletive in saying he didn’t believe Donaldson’s explanation.
‘Usually you have inside jokes with people you get along with, not people who don’t get along at all,’ White Sox closer said Sunday. ‘So that statement right there was complete bulls****.’
Boone said he spoke Saturday to MLB senior vice president of on-field operations Michael Hill, who let him know the league would investigate the matter.
‘Whenever they reach a conclusion, I’m sure you’ll hear about it,’ La Russa said.
Donaldson said he was trying to defuse the situation. The benches also emptied on May 13 after Anderson shoved Donaldson following a hard tag in Chicago (pictured)
Yankees manager Aaron Boone (right) said he talked to Donaldson (left) after Saturday’s game and believed his player’s explanation for why he made the ‘Jackie’ remark – but he also said he thought Donaldson shouldn´t have used the term
In place of Donaldson after Sunday’s games, a pair of brown shoes sat in front of his locker, located diagonally from a display honoring Robinson and including his quote ‘A life is not important except the impact it has on other lives’ hanging above the entrance to the Yankees’ clubhouse.
Grandal appeared briefly in the White Sox’s clubhouse but didn’t speak to the media.
Anderson, with the locker next to Grandal’s, sat at his stall, wearing a T-shirt that said ‘Family.’
Liam Hendriks (pictured), who said he didn’t get along with Donaldson when the two were teammates with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2015, wasn’t sure if there would be additional issues Sunday, which marked the final scheduled meetings of the season between the Yankees and White Sox
Anderson was originally in the lineup for the opener before being scratched by La Russa, who said he wanted the shortstop to play only one game and that appearing in the second game ‘…preserves his body better than playing in the heat.’
Grandal started at catcher in the first game. Donaldson started at third base and drew the usual ‘Donaldson’ chant from the Bleacher Creatures in the top of the first.
Hendriks, who said he didn’t get along with Donaldson when the two were teammates with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2015, wasn’t sure if there would be additional issues Sunday, which marked the final scheduled meetings of the season between the Yankees and White Sox.
‘We’ll wait and see,’ Hendriks said. ‘I think the way it left off, I don’t think it’s ever going to be necessarily complete. This is a yearslong thing between us and that’s something that I don’t think’ll ever necessarily die down. But I think it’s something that MLB should handle on MLB’s end.’
Hendriks pumped his fist and yelled loud enough to be heard three levels away after whiffing Jose Trevino for the final out in the opener.
On Saturday, White Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal confronted Donaldson before a fifth-inning at-bat, leading to a benches-clearing incident in which no punches were thrown and no one was ejected
Anderson has been on the other side of an MLB investigation into allegedly racist comments in the past.
In 2019, Anderson was suspended one game for his role in a recent bench-clearing skirmish – not for his bat flip that allegedly ignited the incident – but because he is said to have called Kansas City Royals pitcher Brad Keller a ‘weak-ass f***ing [n-word].’
Sources told ESPN’s Jeff Passan that Anderson directed the epithet at Keller, who is white, after the Royals right-hander hit him with a pitch.
Keller, who was suspended five games, was apparently reacting to a perceived insult – Anderson spiked his bat following his fourth-inning home run earlier in the game.
‘It’s all confusing,’ Anderson said after the extra-innings loss. ‘I’m the one that ended up in the locker room, and I was the one that got hit by a pitch.’
Jackie Robinson famously broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947 and remains one of the most celebrated civil rights figures in American history