BOSTON (CBS) — Torii Hunter made headlines late last week when he said that his contract included a no-clause trade with Boston, on account of his being on the receiving end of numerous racial slurs at Fenway Park.
On Tuesday, Hunter was a guest on WEEI in Boston to detail some of that experience.
“When I went to Boston it was so consistent,” Hunter said on The Greg Hill Show. “This is my experience. So when people say, ‘Oh, that’s not true, give me proof,’ or whatever, that’s stupid. That’s stupid. Because you’ve got proof; people have been saying it forever. Just, we’re not listening.”
Hunter detailed a specific incident where he claims that kids in the crowd at Fenway chanted the N-word at him, while adults in the same section laughed and seemingly approved.
“It really dawned on me when I saw four or five kids chanting the N-word in the outfield [at Fenway],” Hunter said. “This is my story, and it’s not a lie. And when I heard ‘N-word, N-word,’ just chanting this name, these kids, and I looked at these grown-ups and they are just clapping and laughing. I’m pointing like, ‘Tell them to shut up. That’s bad.’ They could say, ‘You suck Torii. They could say, ‘You can’t hit water if you fell out of a boat.’ But that N-word I don’t like. I’m from Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and I hated it. And so when I looked at the grown-ups and they didn’t do anything, I mean, that’s not a Red Sox issue. That’s an issue in society.”
Hunter continued; “So I just kind of [figured], OK, they’re not going to say anything. These kids now are now grown probably. They are probably CEOs of companies. They are probably the head of something. And I can imagine these kids doing things to people of my skin color and mistreating them because if you can say that, that comes from the heart. Anything that comes out of your mouth comes from the heart. Anything you put in your mouth is going to go to your heart. What comes out of your mouth comes from your heart. That’s a deep-rooted issue and that’s a family issue. It has nothing to do with the Red Sox. It has nothing to do with Boston Red Sox fans. It’s got something to do with society. And that’s why I got the no-trade clause, the list of teams, and I put Boston in there.”
Hunter was asked for more details on the story of the kids chanting.
“I’m giving you my experience,” Hunter explained. “I don’t know about the other guys’ experiences, but you’ve heard other guys say they have been called that. … No parents. The grown-ups all around them never said anything. And that’s what I looked at. The N-word, I was like, OK, I’ve heard it before. I don’t like it. But when I saw grown-ups not stopping it — I saw a little kid stop his dad, put his hand over his mouth [in Kansas City]. But I didn’t see grown-ups stopping the little kids [in Boston], which is the future, which destroys everything.”
Hunter said that he included the no-trade clause with Boston because he didn’t want to bring his family to that environment.
“And I love Boston. I wanted to play there. But it just hit me, like, I can’t have my wife and my kids in this area,” Hunter said. “There is no way I can do that because I don’t never want them to go through that. And if they do, I don’t know what I would do, and I would be the angry black guy. And that wouldn’t be good.”
Hunter also said that he had been warned early in his career to prepare to hear racist comments in Boston.
“A lot of people would tell me, a lot of players before me, they would say, ‘Hey, wait till you go to Boston.’ I’ve been called that in the minor leagues, I’ve been called that in Little League. My first experience with the N-word was in Little League, this guy’s father said, ‘Why is this N-word playing over my son?’ And I heard it, and I didn’t know — I was like, did he just say that? I know that’s a bad word, but I went back and told my mom. And she had to have this serious conversation with me, like, ‘Hey, in life there’s going to be people that hate you because of your skin color.’ Now that I’m older, why did my mom have to have this conversation? And why am I finding myself having the same conversation?”
Last week, Hunter said in an interview on ESPN Radio that he had been called the N-word countless times in Boston.
“I’ve been called the N-word in Boston a hundred times, and I said something about it. And [people said] ‘Oh, he’s just a militant, he’s lying, this didn’t happen.’ No! It happened, all the time — from little kids. And grown-ups right next to them didn’t say anything. … So I had a no-trade clause in everything I had not to go to Boston — not because of all the people, not because of the teammates, not because of the front office. But because of, if you’re doing that and allowing it amongst the people, I don’t want to be there. And that’s why I had a no-trade clause to Boston in every contract I’ve ever had. And I always wanted to play for them, and it sucks.”
Hunter said his goal in sharing his story is simply to shine a light on a problem in hopes of getting people to speak out if another situation arises.
“When you see it, you gotta act on it. Albert Einstein said the world isn’t going to be destroyed by evil; it’s going to be destroyed by people that watch evil happen. And we keep watching, and we hear it, and we do nothing about it, it’s gonna destroy America — it’s not gonna destroy America, it’s going to destroy the world. Because racism has been since the beginning of time. We can never stop it, but we can expose it, and we can say something about it,” Hunter said. “I’m just trying to bring it to light, bring awareness. So now when these Red Sox fans see or hear something, watch what happens.”
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