UPDATED: 1:30 p.m. ET —
News sources are reporting that the baseball fan at a Colorado Rockies game on Sunday accused of repeatedly yelling the N-word to a Black player at-bat was instead actually shouting out the name of the team mascot.
The source of the reported confirmation is the Rockies fan, himself, who purportedly screamed out “Dinger” and did not call Miami Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson the N-word, sports reporters were tweeting Monday afternoon.
“The Rockies have spoken to the fan who confirms this is the case, Steve Staeger, a Denver-based news reporter tweeted despite the clear conflict of interest the still-unnamed fan presents with his own confirmation.
Ken Rosenthal, a senior reporter with the Athletic, tweeted that his own source with the Rockies confirmed Staeger’s report.
It was a strange twist of fate following widespread outrage by everybody from the sports announcers calling the game to viewers alike who all swore they heard the fan say the N-word. Repeated listens to the audio sounds very similar to hearing the N-word.
The issue became a top trending topic on Twitter Sunday afternoon after what seemed to be a shameless example of anti-Black racism displayed during a Major League Baseball (MLB) game. It came weeks after MLB’s decision-makers announced the leagues’ new plan to attract more Black players.
The incident during the game between the Marlins and the Rockies came in the 9th inning as Brinson was batting at Coors Field in Denver.
As a hush fell over the crowd, one voice rose above to repeatedly shout the N-word; or, so what seemed like everybody thought.
Watch the video below.
Because only the audio could be heard and there was no video pointing to the person who yelled it, it was not immediately clear if what sounded like a racist slur was being directed to Brinson. The Rockies agreed with that sentiment and the team opened up an investigation into the matter.
ESPN reported that the Rockies, apparently believing the fan used the N-word, said in a statement that such behavior will not be tolerated at Coors Field. But it would appear that is exactly what the fans surrounding the alleged culprit did since no one immediately came forward to identify the person responsible.
“The Colorado Rockies are disgusted at the racial slur by a fan directed at the Marlins’ Lewis Brinson during the ninth inning of today’s game,” the team said. “Although the subject was not identified prior to the end of the game, the Rockies are still investigating this incident.
The Marlins said that no one from the team, including Brinson, heard the N-word.
However, Brinson appeared to acknowledge the report following the game, when he posted a photo of himself to his Instagram account with a simple message: “Keep going.”
Either way, it’s a really bad look for MLB, which has admitted its past failings in trying to attract Black players to participate in the sport commonly referred to as “America’s favorite past time.”
Ironically, Denver was also the place where MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred recently announced during the leagues’ annual all-star festivities — an all-star game that was controversially relocated from Atlanta after Georgia passed racist election laws targeting Black voters — that it was committing more than $100 million dollars to not only encourage more Black people to play baseball but also to help them eventually make the big leagues.
“We want young people — period — playing the game, particularly young people of color,” Manfred said last month during a press conference at Coors Field.
The move came just about a year after Black MLB players began speaking out about the state of racial inclusiveness in the professional game and lamenting that there were so few Black players.
Around the same time, amid nationwide protests against racism and police brutality, USA Today published a report finding that the percentage of Black MLB players was “still low.”
Taken in its totality, along with the alleged racist incident at Coors Field, it would appear that the MLB has its work cut out for them.
A lack of Black MLB players is hardly new.
At the start of the 2011 season, the percentage of Black players dropped to 8.5 %, down 10% from one year earlier and was at its lowest level since 2007.
Fast-forward to 2021 and the New York Times estimated last month that the current percentage of Black MLB players stands at 7.6%.
Take that for what you will.