Delino DeShields has heard similar taunts as Adam Jones, the Orioles outfielder who publicly called out fans at Boston’s Fenway Park for yelling racial epithets at him from the stands.
For DeShields, it was a couple of “drunk” fans at Yankee Stadium in 2015, his rookie season. He was playing left field and heard some racially insensitive taunts directed at him. He told a police officer, who had security escort them out of the ball park.
“You get the urge to say things back but the more mature or responsible way as a professional athlete to approach it is going and telling somebody and they’ll get on their walkie talkies and tell somebody,” DeShields said. “You don’t want to turn around and make a scene or turn around and flip somebody off.”
I don’t mind hecklers, I know it’s part of the game. You can talk trash, that’s fine. But when it goes too far and I turn around and there are kids in the stands that’s when it’s not okay with me.
Rangers LF Delino DeShields
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Rangers manager Jeff Banister was personally offended on behalf of Jones.
“It’s 2017, absolutely deplorable,” Banister said. “There is a line you don’t cross anywhere, I don’t care if it’s a baseball game, in the street, in a grocery story. There’s no place for it. It’s quite shameful to me.”
DeShields didn’t say anything publicly as a rookie in ’15 but applauded Jones for speaking up and shining a light on the problem, however small a segment of fans it may include.
“I wasn’t really surprised by it. I think a lot of things get said and people aren’t as vocal about it. Adam Jones is a vocal guy and if he has a problem with something he’s going to speak his mind about it,” he said. “I’m glad he did say something about it. I’m glad the guys on the Red Sox who play in that park said something about it, too. They have black players there, too. For them to step in and have his back and make a note to the fans of Boston and baseball that that’s not okay, I think it’s a powerful move.”
DeShields would like to see more fans step up and call out fellow fans who are using offensive language, just not racist terms.
“I don’t think fans are all the same, obviously, but how fans handle the situation is important, too. I think if they allow it to happen it kind of puts them in the same category,” he said. “People who hear it and allow it to happen over and over again is kind of an issue.”
It’s not just about protecting players. A major league baseball game is for families, especially young kids, who shouldn’t be subjected to loud, vulgar language.
“This is an environment where dads and parents bring their kids to the field to enjoy a baseball game, not to hear fans cursing, saying racial things and setting a bad example,” DeShields said. “I don’t mind hecklers, I know it’s part of the game. You can talk trash, that’s fine. But when it goes too far and I turn around and there are kids in the stands that’s when it’s not okay with me.”
Stefan Stevenson: 817-390-7760, @StevensonFWST