Tim Anderson Calls Josh Donaldson’s ‘Jackie’ Comments Racist

White Sox Manager Tony La Russa didn’t mince words when he was asked what happened between Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson and Chicago shortstop Tim Anderson.

“He made a racist comment,” La Russa said of Donaldson. “That’s all I’m going to say.”

Shortly after the Yankees beat Chicago at Yankee Stadium, 7-5, on Saturday, Donaldson, who is white, admitted to calling Anderson, who is Black, “Jackie” in the first inning. Anderson said it happened twice in the game. Anderson deemed the reference to Jackie Robinson, who broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, “disrespectful” before agreeing with his manager that the remark was racist.

“Basically, he was trying to call me Jackie Robinson,” Anderson said. “He was like, ‘Hey, what’s up Jackie?’ I don’t play like that. I don’t really play at all. I wasn’t really going to bother nobody today, but he made the comment, and you know, it was disrespectful and I don’t think it was called for. It was unnecessary.”

Anderson and Donaldson exchanged words on the field early in that game. The situation escalated in the fifth inning when White Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal confronted Donaldson as he stepped into the batter’s box. Grandal, pointing toward Anderson at shortstop, got face to face with Donaldson, and the benches cleared. Anderson, jogging in from short, was restrained by teammates and kept away from Donaldson. There were no punches thrown.

“This game went through a period in time where a lot of those comments were meant, and I think we’re way past that,” Grandal said after the game. “It’s just unacceptable. I just thought it was a low blow, and I want to make sure I’ve got my team’s back. There’s no way that you’re allowed to say something like that.

Anderson was unfazed by the boos at Yankee Stadium on Sunday. His three-run homer was part of a five-run rally that sealed the White Sox’ win in the second game.Credit…Sarah Stier/Getty Images

There were no further incidents between the players during Sunday’s doubleheader, but there was plenty of emotion from both Anderson and the fans at Yankee Stadium.

After sitting out Sunday’s first game, which the White Sox won, 3-1, Anderson was booed throughout the second game. He got the last word, however, as he went 3 for 5 and his three-run home run capped a five-run eighth inning in Chicago’s 5-0 win. As he rounded the bases, he mocked the Bronx cheers by holding his right index finger to his lips.

Anderson declined all interview requests after the games.

Whether or not Donaldson would be disciplined following Saturday’s incident remained unclear. Yankees Manager Aaron Boone said he spoke to Michael Hill, Major League Baseball’s senior vice president of on-field operations, who let him know the league would investigate the matter.

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“Whenever they reach a conclusion, I’m sure you’ll hear about it,” La Russa told reporters.

Boone said he did not believe Donaldson had any “malicious intent” but acknowledged that his player should not have made the comments.

“You know, this is — just in my opinion — somewhere he should not be going,” Boone said.

On Saturday, Donaldson had acknowledged calling Anderson “Jackie,” but said he has been calling him that for years. He claimed it was a long-running joke between them, stemming from a 2019 Sports Illustrated article in which Anderson said, “I kind of feel like today’s Jackie Robinson.”

Anderson was speaking on his desire to introduce more personality and flair to baseball’s traditionally reserved culture, an effort that Anderson has received pushback for at times during his career.

“So first inning, I called him ‘Jackie.’ Let me give you a little context of that,” Donaldson began. “In 2019, he came out with an interview, said that he’s the new Jackie Robinson of baseball and he’s going to bring back fun for the game, right? In 2019, when I played for Atlanta, we actually joked about that in the game. I don’t know what’s changed.”

Donaldson added: “Obviously, he deemed that it was disrespectful. And look, if he did, I apologize. That’s not what I was trying to do, by any manner.”

For Anderson, there was no humor to be found.

“That happened in the first, the first time he got on, and I spared him that time,” Anderson said. “And then it happened again. It’s just uncalled for.”

Donaldson said he would be open to having a private conversation with Anderson. His characterization of the situation raised some eyebrows, though, as Anderson and the White Sox have not had a good recent history with Donaldson. Just last week, Anderson took exception to a physical tag from Donaldson when the teams played in Chicago. On an attempted pickoff play at third base, Donaldson pushed Anderson off the bag, ultimately resulting in a safe call. That resulted in an exchange of words and a modest bench clearing.

Donaldson also had run-ins with the White Sox in 2021 while he was a member of the Twins, who, like Chicago, play in the American League Central. In one such matchup, Donaldson homered off the White Sox ace Lucas Giolito. As Donaldson crossed home plate, he could be heard yelling, “Hands not sticky anymore,” a nod to M.L.B.’s crackdown on pitchers using foreign substances.

Afterward, Giolito called Donaldson a “pest” and said that if the infielder had a problem with him, he should say so to his face. Donaldson then told reporters that he confronted Giolito in the stadium’s parking lot.

White Sox closer Liam Hendriks, a former teammate of Donaldson’s, called Donaldson’s interpretation of Saturday’s events “straight delusional.” He added: “Usually, you have inside jokes with people you get along with, not people that don’t get along at all.”

“He lives in his own world,” Grandal said of Donaldson while also bringing up the dispute with Giolito.

“I’m sure any other team would have reacted the same way. Like I said, a comment like that is just unacceptable.”


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