The Colorado Rockies are investigating whether a man in the stands at Coors Field in Denver on Sunday repeatedly and loudly yelled a racial slur at Miami Marlins outfielder Lewis Brinson, who is Black.
The Rockies said in a statement that they were disgusted by the incident. The offender was not identified before the game ended, the Rockies said, but the team is investigating the incident.
“The Rockies have zero tolerance for any form of racism or discrimination, and any fan using derogatory language of any kind will be ejected and banned from Coors Field,” said the statement, which was posted on the team’s website.
The incident happened during the top of the ninth inning, and the loud, brazen yells were picked up by microphones behind home plate and clearly heard on the Marlins’ television broadcast.
Paul Severino, the Marlins’ television play-by-play announcer, denounced the incident after the game.
“I’m absolutely disgusted at the language that was picked up by the mics late in the game today,” he said on Twitter.
Tony Clark, the executive director of the players’ union, said progress was needed to “ensure that racism is never tolerated on or off the field.”
“While many are truly committed to respect and equality for all, the abhorrent racial animus displayed today highlights that there is still much work to be done,” Clark said.
Coors Field was the site of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game on July 13. The game and the Home Run Derby were initially scheduled to be played at Atlanta’s stadium, but M.L.B. moved it to Denver after the Georgia General Assembly passed voting laws that critics said were designed to suppress Black votes.
Brinson, 27, did not appear to react to the apparent abuse, and it is unclear whether he heard it, although it was yelled very loudly at a quiet moment in the action. It is not clear whether any nearby fans, ushers or security personnel objected to the yelling or tried to stop it. Since the statements were issued, some debate emerged on social media about whether the person was calling out to “Dinger,” the Rockies’ mascot. The Rockies won the game, 13-8, while Brinson went 2 for 4 with a walk and two runs batted in.
Other similar incidents have occurred at baseball games over the years, but in most cases there was no microphone to document it. In 2017, Adam Jones recounted that he had been called the same racial slur while playing against the Red Sox in the outfield at Fenway Park in Boston when he was a member of the Baltimore Orioles. After he spoke out, other players said they had heard about similar incidents in other cities.
“Sorry you had to deal with a coward,” Jones wrote to Brinson on his Twitter account on Sunday. He went on to lament how unfortunate it is when athletes who face such abuse are expected not to react, adding, “We always have to be the good guys!!”
After Jones detailed his experience to USA Today, the Red Sox’ president, Sam Kennedy, thanked him for bringing it to light. The next day, Red Sox fans at Fenway Park gave Jones a standing ovation in his first at-bat.
European soccer has for decades dealt with the scourge of overt racism by supporters at games and online. Last month, after Italy beat England in the European soccer championships, three English players faced a wave of racial abuse on social media after they failed to convert their penalty shots.