By Jacob Lev, CNN
During the New York Yankees’ 7-5 win over the Chicago White Sox Saturday, Yankees’ third baseman Josh Donaldson, who is White, made a racist comment to Chicago shortstop Tim Anderson, who is Black, White Sox manager Tony La Russa told reporters.
“He made a racist comment and that’s all I’m going to say,” La Russa told reporters after the game, adding the accusation is “as strong as it gets.”
La Russa did not elaborate on what was said, but the 28-year-old Anderson, who has played all his seven seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) in Chicago, said Anderson called him “Jackie” [Robinson] in a disrespectful way.
“He was trying to call me Jackie Robinson, like ‘What’s up, Jackie?’ ” Anderson said after the game. “I don’t play like that. I wasn’t really bothering nobody today, but he made the comment and it was disrespectful. I don’t think it was called for. It was unnecessary.”
Jackie Robinson was the first Black player in the major leagues.
In the fifth inning, both teams’ benches cleared after a verbal confrontation between Donaldson and White Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal at home plate.
Donaldson appeared to point to Anderson, who was playing in the field, and both benches cleared. Anderson had to be restrained by teammates. Both teams were issued warnings but no one was ejected from the game.
Anderson said it wasn’t the first time Donaldson made the comment to him during the game. “It happened in the first — the first time he got on — and I spared him that time. Then it happened again, and it was just uncalled for. We don’t need to be playing like that,” Anderson said.
When asked if he agreed with La Russa’s claim the comment was racist, Anderson agreed, saying, “Along that same line, yeah.”
Donaldson, after the game, admitted to calling Anderson “Jackie” but denied any racist intentions with the comment.
“We are not trying to start any brawls or anything like that,” Donaldson said to reporters after the game. “Obviously, he deemed it was disrespectful and look, if he did, I apologize because that’s not what I was trying to do by any matter.”
Donaldson added he would address the situation with Anderson but wasn’t sure how “willing” Anderson would be to do that.
Donaldson claimed it had been a joke between the two of them, and said they had joked about it previously after Anderson’s 2019 interview with Sports Illustrated, where he called himself “today’s Jackie Robinson.”
“I kind of feel like today’s Jackie Robinson,” Anderson said in 2019, while saying he wanted to bring “fun” back to baseball. “That’s huge to say. But it’s cool, man, because he changed the game, and I feel like I’m getting to a point to where I need to change the game.”
MLB is looking into the matter and is speaking to all parties involved, a source with knowledge of the situation told CNN.
There is recent history between Anderson and Donaldson. In a game between the Yankees and White Sox last weekend, the two players collided on an attempted pickoff tag at third and Anderson took exception to Donaldson’s tag.
CNN has reached out to the White Sox and Yankees for additional comment.
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