The now-former longtime MLB announcer who was fired for saying the N-word on live TV earlier this month said he is struggling to comprehend why he lost his job to what he maintains was an “honest mispronunciation” of the word “Negro.”
Glen Kuiper, who has been announcing games for the Oakland Athletics for two decades, spoke out Monday following the announcement of his termination from NBC Sports California more than two weeks after he said the fateful racist slur before a game.
He said he regretted the “terrible but honest mispronunciation,” but the fluency with which he said the racist slur casts doubt on the assertion that he failed to properly articulate the word “Negro.” Quite the opposite, pre-game video footage shows Kuiper saying the N-word very clearly.
Kuiper refused to take responsibility for saying the N-word. He said in a statement that “racism is in no way a part of me” and blamed “this current environment” for NBC firing him.
“I wish the Oakland A’s and NBC Sports would have taken into consideration my 20-year career, my solid reputation, integrity and character, but in this current environment traits like integrity and character are no longer considered,” Kuiper added. “I will always have a hard time understanding how one mistake in a 20-year broadcasting career is cause for termination, but I know something better is in my future.”
NBC Sports California said it reached its decision to fire Kuiper after “an internal review” that lasted for more than two weeks.
In case you missed it, Kuiper said the N-word when referring to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City on May 5. He was on the air recounting his experience from earlier that day visiting the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, where the Athletics were playing against the Royals.
Standing beside fellow broadcaster Dallas Braden, Kuiper gushed about how the two of them “had a phenomenal day” before he gestured with his thumb up and cited the “nigger league museum” as a prime example.
Later in the game, Kuiper said his words “didn’t come out quite the way I wanted it to” and asked for people to accept his “sincerest apologies.”
Kuiper was swiftly suspended.
ESPN reported on Monday that a “person familiar with the investigation said ‘the decision was based on a variety of factors, including information uncovered in the internal review.'”
Those other factors were not immediately clear. However, the day after Kuiper was suspended, a tweet surfaced purporting to show footage from a game he was calling in 2020 in which the announcer can be heard talking about “nigger league uniforms.”
Oakland A’s manager Mark Kotsay distanced himself from NBC Sports California’s decision and offered sympathy to Kuiper.
“I can’t imagine being in his shoes right now,” Kotsay told reporters. “I think, personally, we missed an opportunity here maybe to use this as an educational platform. But as you said, I don’t make decisions, and this isn’t a decision I was involved in and nor was the organization, really. This was a decision made by NBC.”
Braden, Kuiper’s now-former on-air partner who is shown appearing to agree wholeheartedly as the N-word was said before the game in Kansas City, excused the racial slur as an “unfortunate mistake.” He suggested he wasn’t even paying attention to the words coming out of his broadcast partner’s mouth despite his mannerisms — shaking his head in earnest while pounding his chest — suggesting otherwise.
Braden suggested he may have been too distracted by producers or any of the “nuances of live television” of which he said viewers are unaware.
“We have lots going on that is not always visible to our audience,” Braden explained. “In that moment, I missed the live comment, and I was not aware of it until the sixth inning when Glen Kuiper made an apology.”
Braden said he was offering “support and encouragement” to Kuiper, who is allegedly working toward “understanding the impact and hurt resulting in this unfortunate mistake.”
Notably, Braden said the “incident has, indeed, impacted” him “greatly.” However, he never said how.
Braden went on to say he’s “reached out” to have conversations about race and pledged to “continue to keep clarity.”
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