White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson said that Yankees designated hitter Josh Donaldson made a racist and disrespectful remark to him on the field Saturday, sparking the benches to clear in the Yankees’ 7-5 win at the Stadium on Saturday.
MLB was investigating the incident Saturday evening, according to sources.
“Disrespectful comment. Basically he tried to call me Jackie Robinson, you know ‘What’s up Jackie.’ I don’t play like that. I don’t play at all,” Anderson told reporters after the game. “I wasn’t really going to bother nobody today, but he made the comment and it was, you know, disrespectful. And I don’t think it was called for. It was unnecessary.”
Donaldson said he thought it was a joke, referring back to a 2019 Sports Illustrated interview Anderson did in which he was quoted as saying “I kind of feel like today’s Jackie Robinson.” Anderson was referring to breaking the “fun barrier.”
“I called him Jackie,” Donaldson said. “So let me give you a little context of that. In 2019, he came out with the interview saying that he’s the new Jackie Robinson of baseball. He’s gonna bring back fun to the game. Right? And in 2019 when I played for Atlanta we actually joked about that [in] the game. I don’t know what’s changed from [then] … and I’ve said it to him in years past, not in any manner, [other] than just joking around for the fact that he calls himself Jackie Robinson.
“So, if something has changed from that, like my meaning of that is not any term trying to be racist by any fact of the matter.”
Donaldson said he apologizes if Anderson felt it was racist and would talk to him about it if Anderson were open to it. He said he hoped the post-interview would convey his explanation to Anderson. Donaldson said he addressed it with some of his teammates. He was seen talking in the dugout with team leader Aaron Judge after the benches cleared and things had settled down.
“It was just off of an interview that he called himself that and we said that before [and] we joked about it. He laughed, whatever. As you could tell, in our series that we’ve played, there are multiple times I’ve tried to defuse the situation. I took responsibility for the tag, I wasn’t trying to do anything there,” Donaldson said referring to an incident when the Yankees were in Chicago last week. “Like today and just trying to defuse it like hey, like, make light like, Hey, we’re not trying to start any brawls or anything like that.
“Obviously, he deemed that it was disrespectful, and look, if he did, I apologize. Like that’s not what I was trying to do by any manner.”
Still, Anderson and White Sox manager Tony La Russa see it as a racist comment that Donaldson made when he was on base in the second inning.
“He made a racist comment, Donaldson. That’s all I am gonna say,” La Russa said.
Anderson agreed with his manager.
“Same, along that same line,” Anderson said.
When asked how he contained himself at that moment, Anderson said he wasn’t sure.
“I don’t know to be honest. It was very disrespectful. I don’t want to play like that,” Anderson said.
At the end of the third inning, when Donaldson was back on base, he and Anderson had words. Yankees third base coach Luis Rojas pulled Donaldson away and umpire crew chief Greg Gibson stepped close to make sure it did not escalate.
In the fifth, as Donaldson walked to the plate, Yasmani Grandal wouldn’t let him step in the box before he got nose-to-nose and started yelling at him. That sparked the benches and bullpens to come running to the plate.
“It was a comment he made. This game went through a period of time where a lot of those comments were made and I think we’re way past that. It’s just unacceptable,” Grandal said. “Thought it was a low blow and I’m going to make sure I’ve got my team’s back. There’s no way you’re allowed to say something like that, it’s unacceptable.”
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Yankees manager Aaron Boone said he was not sure what was said.
“I know there was some talk of that,” Boone said when told La Russa accused Donaldson of making a racist comment. “But I’ve gotta go in and get to the bottom of it.”
Boone added the “jawing back and forth has to stop.”
Anderson and Donaldson had one last meeting on the field in the seventh inning when it seemed something was said and the Yankee DH was seen laughing to himself as he ran off the field.
“Obviously, there’s been a couple of situations where he’s tried to get in my face and say other words to me and it just keeps happening,” Donaldson said. “That’s why after I slid into second base, I just kind of looked at him after he said something to me. I’m like, Alright, I’m just, I just laughed. I’ve had enough.”
Anderson and Donaldson clashed last week when the Yankees were in Chicago after a particularly physical tag at third base on a pickoff play that ended with the benches clearing, but no punches thrown. Last season, when he was with the Twins, Donaldson had angered the White Sox with comments about Lucas Giolito and illegal substances that pitchers were banned from using during that season.
The teams have two games left in the regular season. They will play a straight doubleheader on Sunday.
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