Hub’s pro teams take stand against racism

Boston Herald - - NEWS - By CHRIS VILLANI — chris.villani@boston­her­ald.com

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.”

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