Hub’s pro teams take stand against racism
Boston’s five major professional sports teams banded together to encourage fans to speak out against racism and discrimination at Fenway Park yesterday.
“No sports venue can be responsible for the attitudes of every fan who pays his way or her way into the ballpark, you cannot do it,” said Red Sox Hall of Famer Tommy Harper. “But your response to it is what’s important. The response when I played was nothing.”
Harper said he suffered years of discrimination under the then Yawkey-affiliated Red Sox ownership and won a financial settlement after filing state and federal discrimination complaints against the team in 1986. He joined NFL Hall of Famer Andre Tippett, former Celtics’ star and current radio analyst Cedric Maxwell, and former Bruins’ forward and current B’s foundation exec Bob Sweeney yesterday in a panel discussion about race.
Red Sox president Sam Kennedy said the “Take the Lead” event — attended by about 175 students from Somerville, Waltham and Dorchester — stemmed from two incidents at Fenway earlier this season — when Orioles outfielder Adam Jones said a fan hurled a racial epithet at him followed by racist taunts of a national anthem singer the next night.
“Racism is not a Boston thing or any specific city,” Kennedy said. “Unfortunately, it’s everywhere and it’s important to acknowledge that and try to elevate and sustain that conversation.”
Kennedy said the Adam Jones incident “really hurts.”
Maxwell said he was disappointed that some cast doubts on Jones’ claims, specifically calling out former Red Sox pitcher and conservative firebrand Curt Schilling.
“When you have legends of your city talk that way,” Maxwell said, “it makes your city smaller than it is.”
Both Maxwell and Tippett said they did not initially like Boston, but said they’ve grown to call it home over the years. Tippett, a five-time Pro Bowl pick with the Pats, said he was “proud” to see the Patriots united during the national anthem on Sunday.
Kennedy touched on another hot-button issue, the renaming of Yawkey Way, saying Sox ownership decided to move forward with the change because the street sign “is a symbol of a time when this ballpark may not have been as inclusive as it should have been.”