Update: Josh Donaldson, the Yankees player suspended by Major League Baseball after addressing an opponent as "Jackie," has apologized to Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson's family. In a statement issued Thursday, CBS Sports reports, Donaldson reiterated that he had meant no disrespect and had already apologized to the other player, Tim Anderson of the White Sox, and added Robinson's widow. "I would also like to apologize to Mrs. Rachel Robinson and the Jackie Robinson family for any distress this incident may have caused," the statement said. "Jackie was a true American hero and I hold his name in the highest regard." Our original story from Monday follows:
Major League Baseball has fined and suspended—for one game—a Yankees player for calling a member of another team "Jackie," a reference to Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson, who broke all-white baseball's color barrier in 1947. Josh Donaldson, who is white, apologized to Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson after their game Saturday, saying he meant no disrespect, ESPN reports. But Anderson said he was offended, as were his teammates, and a brawl broke out between the two teams later in their game Saturday in New York.
Donaldson said he was renewing a long-running joke between the two that began with an interview of Anderson that ran in Sports Illustrated in 2019. "I kind of feel like today's Jackie Robinson," Anderson said in the article. "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." RJ Anderson writes for CBS Sports that the quote needs context: Most of the article is about Anderson's feelings of isolation as a Black person in an industry dominated by white men. ESPN found in 2017 that almost 60% of the players are white. MLB now has two Black managers, and not one Black general manager or team owner.
Whatever Donaldson's intent, an MLB statement issued Monday said, the comment "was disrespectful and in poor judgment." His manager, Aaron Boone, said he shouldn't have said it. White Sox manager Tony LaRussa called it racist. The team's pitching coach, Ethan Katz, was critical of the suspension's length. "Just one game," Katz tweeted, adding, "What's the point or message behind a 1 game suspension? This is incredibly disappointing." The amount of the fine was not disclosed. The Yankees have put Donaldson, who is appealing the punishment, on the COVID-19 injured list. (Anderson was the hero of last season's Field of Dreams game.)