Less than a week after former Major League outfielder Torii Hunter discussed being called the n-word in Boston "100 times," the Red Sox released a statement Wednesday confirming Hunter's account.
“Torii Hunter’s experience is real," the statement read. "If you doubt him because you’ve never heard it yourself, take it from us, it happens."
The team said there were seven reported incidents at Fenway Park last season in which fans used racial slurs.
"Those are just the ones we know about. And it’s not only players. It happens to the dedicated Black employees who work for us on game days. Their uniforms may be different, but their voices and experiences are just as important. We are grateful to everyone who had spoken up and remain committed to using our platform to amplify the many voices who are calling out injustice.
"This small group of fans does not represent who we are, but are rather a reflection of larger systemic issues that as an organization we need to address. True change starts from within, and as we identify how we do better, please know we are listening. We hear you, and we believe you.”
Hunter is not the only Black player who's described dealing with racist slurs when playing as a visiting player in Boston. Hunter said the abuse caused him to never want to play for the Red Sox, and he included the team on every no-trade clause list in each contract he signed.
“I’ve been called the N-word in Boston 100 times, and I said something about it,” Hunter said on ESPN’s Golic and Wingo on Thursday. “(I didn‘t speak up because people would say) ‘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. Because if you’re doing that and it’s allowed amongst the people, I don’t want to be there. And that’s why I had a no-trade clause to Boston. Every contract I’ve ever had. And I always wanted to play for them. It sucks.”
Hunter quote-tweeted the Red Sox's statement, commenting "Change starts now."
Hunter spent 19 years in the league, with five All-Star appearances and nine Gold Glove awards. His teams were eliminated from the playoffs twice against the Red Sox—once with the Angels (2008) and once with the Tigers (2013).