On a hot afternoon, a very heated altercation continued on the field afterwards, with Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson taking offense at being called “Jackie” by Josh Donaldson of the New York Yankees, a comment considered “racist” by manager Tony LaRussa.
Donaldson admitted after the game that he called Anderson “Jackie” (a nod to Jackie Robinson) in the first inning. He apologized, saying that he meant no disrespect. However, Anderson, who is black, said after the game that he was offended by the comment.
“He just made a disrespectful comment,” Anderson said. “Basically, he was trying to call me Jackie Robinson. ‘What’s up, Jackie?’ I don’t play like that. I don’t really play at all. I wasn’t really going to upset anyone today, but he made the comment and you know it was disrespectful and I don’t think it was necessary. It was unnecessary.”
Donaldson, who is white, said the “Jackie” comment was referring to a 2019 interview with Sports Illustrated in which Anderson described himself as “today’s Jackie Robinson” in how he “comes to a point where I need to change the game.”
Donaldson said Saturday that it was a reference to him “joking” with Anderson about it in the past.
Major League Baseball is investigating the matter and speaking with all parties involved, a source told ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez.
Robinson broke the major league color barrier in 1947. All major league teams have retired his number 42 to honor the struggle, sacrifice, and social impact he had on the game and beyond.
In the third inning, Donaldson had turned around at second after the last out and began berating Anderson as both teams were leaving the field.
Donaldson, who is in his first season with the Yankees, had to be removed from the field by manager Aaron Boone. Anderson, a star shortstop, was removed by third base coach Joe McEwing.
“He made a racist comment, Donaldson, and that’s all I’m going to say. That’s as strong as it gets,” La Russa said.
Asked if he agreed with La Russa, Anderson said, “Same. Same. Along the same lines.”
Donaldson, who said he told his side of the story to his Yankees teammates, told reporters he would be willing to meet with Anderson to discuss the incident.
“What I mean by that is not any term that is trying to be racist for any fact of the matter,” Donaldson said. “Obviously, he considered it disrespectful. And he looks, if he did it, I apologize. That’s not what he was trying to do in any way and that’s what happened.”
The Yankees and White Sox cleared the benches on May 13 in Chicago when Anderson objected to a hard tackle by Donaldson.
Donaldson said Saturday that he was “trying to defuse” any lingering tension when the players crossed paths early in the game.
In the fifth inning, Grandal was in a crouch, but he got up and started to say something to Donaldson, who was walking up to home plate. The bickering continued as relievers poured in from the bullpens and the benches emptied.
Chicago driver Tony LaRussa also yelled something at Donaldson.
“Believe me, you don’t want me to tell you what I told him,” Grandal told reporters.
Anderson continued to yell at Donaldson as Jose Abreu and infielder Gavin Sheets held him down. After a few minutes, the umpires issued warnings to both sides, and Donaldson struck out.
“This game went through a period where a lot of those comments made sense, and I think we’re past that now,” Grandal said after the game. “And it’s just unacceptable. I just thought it was a cheap shot and I want to make sure I have my team’s back. There’s no way you’d be allowed to say something like that.”
Boone said of the incident, “I know…there’s been a bit of talk about it. I’ve got to get to the bottom of it.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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Donaldson’s comment to Anderson is called ‘racist’