Ex-Twin Josh Donaldson embroiled in racism controversy for Jackie Robinson comment

Ex-Twin Josh Donaldson embroiled in racism controversy for Jackie Robinson comment

Published May 22, 2022
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Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The incident cleared the benches in Saturday’s Yankees-White Sox game.

Former Minnesota Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson has been accused of making a racist comment toward Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson on Saturday afternoon.

Donaldson, who was traded to the New York Yankees this past offseason, referred to Anderson as “Jackie” in the first inning of Saturday’s game. 

According to Donaldson, it was a reference to a 2019 Sports Illustrated interview where Anderson said he was feeling like “today’s Jackie Robinson” because he was “getting to a point where I need to change the game.”

Donaldson told reporters after the game that the two had joked about the comment in the past, but in the third inning of Saturday’s game, Donaldson and Anderson exchanged words as Donaldson rounded second base after the final out of the inning.

Donaldson said that his intent was to lighten the tension between the two players but White Sox manager Tony LaRussa condemned Donaldson’s comments as racist after the game, calling it “as strong as it gets.”

“He just made a disrespectful comment,” Anderson said after the game. “Basically he was trying to call me Jackie Robinson. ‘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.”

The tension continued to rise in the fifth inning when White Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal stood up from his crouch and confronted Donaldson. Both benches and bullpens cleared but no punches were thrown.

This is not the first incident Donaldson has had with the White Sox. Last July, Donaldson confronted Chicago pitcher Lucas Giolito after he called him “f—— classless” and “a pest” in response to Donaldson’s accusations that Giolito used foreign substances on the mound.

Donaldson also was involved in a benches-clearing incident on May 13 incident where he deployed a hard tag on Anderson after a strikeout in the first inning.

“My meaning of that is not any term trying to be racist by any fact of the matter,” Donaldson said. “Obviously, he deemed it disrespectful. And look, if he did, I apologize. That’s not what I was trying to do by any manner and that’s what happened.”

Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947 and currently has his No. 42 jersey retired across Major League Baseball to honor the struggle, sacrifice and social impact he had on the game.

Major League Baseball is currently looking into the incident.