Torii Hunter: The 21st Century Jackie Robinson


When Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers broke major league baseball’s color barrier back in 1947, he experienced harassment at the hands of both players and fans. In one game against the Philadelphia Phillies on April 22, several Phillies players called Jackie a “nigger” from their dugout, and yelled that he should “go back to the cotton fields.” On road trips across N.L. cities, opposing fans would curse and spit on Jackie.

After sixty-one years since Robinson broke the color barrier, it would be reasonable to assume that the harassment of players and racial slurs would have ended by now. However, such is not the case at Fenway Park where Angels outfielder Torii Hunter has experienced abject racism over the course of his major league career. In an interview with the Riverside Press-Enterprisebefore the start of a series at Fenway Park this past week, Torii explained how he’d been treated during earlier trips to Boston.

“My first five or six (years), I was ‘That N-word.’ Some people would chant that out, some people would throw beer or whatever . . . batteries.”

As a baseball fans and Americans this is an embarrassment to us all. I generally do not have a big problem with fans booing selfish players and bigots such as Barry Bonds and John Rocker, but harassing the good-guys like Hunter because of his race is completely unacceptable.

This is one of many reasons why the West Coast is a better place to watch a baseball game.