Texas Rangers

Fan made obscene gesture, racially harassed family at Texas Rangers game, couple says

Jessica Romero

A Fort Worth family left Saturday night’s Texas Rangers game at Globe Life Park early after being harassed for being Hispanic by another fan.

Jessica Romero, husband Ramon Romero and their son Nomar, 6, were sitting in the upper deck when Jessica Romero overheard a man sitting in the row behind them make racist comments about Hispanics, she said.

She posted an image on Facebook of the man making an obscene hand gesture in the background of a family photo that Ramon Romero took when they sat down.

She recounted some of the disparaging comments she claims he made on her Facebook post, her first post on the social media site since April.

The post has been shared more than 41,000 times as of late Monday night.

The couple talked to the Star-Telegram Monday evening.

“It gives me so much feeling of support,” Jessica Romero said. “I’ve gotten messages from Washington DC, Ohio, Louisiana, California, all over. I’ve tried to respond but there are so many. It’s kind of amazing to me how kind people are and the words they’re sending.”

But first came the ugliness.

At first, Jessica Romero said she heard the man sitting behind her family tell his female companion that he planned to photo-bomb the Romero’s family picture.

“I didn’t even know they were talking about us,” Jessica Romero said. “She said, ‘Yeah, we should make a photo album of how many pictures we’ve [messed] up.’ Then I went to look at the picture and knew they were talking about us.”

She turned and looked at the man.

“And he just looked at me. He didn’t say anything,” Jessica Romero said. “And he never said anything when my husband was sitting in the seat next to us.”

The man was wearing a Texas Tech cap.

After a boy sitting behind the man accidentally kicked the back of his seat during the second inning, Jessica Romero said, the man began to “complain about all the illegal immigrants that were surrounding him at the game,” she said. “He said he ‘should kick little Speedy Gonzalez all the way back to Mexico for kicking his seat.’”

“Trump needs to hurry and build the wall and send all these illegals back so they won’t be kicking his seat,” the man said, according to Jessica Romero.

The Rangers released a statement condemning the behavior.

“The Rangers are committed to providing all of our guests with a safe and enjoyable experience and we are truly sorry that this family was subjected to this offensive behavior at Saturday’s game,” the statement reads. “There is no place at Globe Life Park in Arlington for this type of conduct to occur.”

The Rangers pledged to “make their next trip to Globe Life Park a memorable and enjoyable experience.”

Jessica Romero didn’t tell her husband what she overheard for fear of a verbal or physical altercation between the two men, especially in front of their son, until they left in the fifth inning.

“I wish I had known. I would have told an usher,” Ramon Romero said, “and told them ‘This guy is making us real uncomfortable over here. He’s talking bad about people.’ My wife wasn’t aware of that. It didn’t even dawn on her to get the attention of an usher.”

Jessica Romero didn’t want her husband starring in a fight caught on video that goes viral. Instead, an image of a guy ruining a family photo did.

“You see videos all of the time that go viral on Facebook,” she said. “I could just see words being said and then, in an instant, it could turn violent. My son was my main concern.”

The Romeros have been 10-game season-ticket holders for the past nine years. Nomar’s favorite players are Nomar Mazara and Delino DeShields.

They said this is the first time they’ve been treated poorly by another fan.

The incident occurred hours after a 21-year-old man from Allen targeted Hispanic shoppers at an El Paso Wal-Mart, killing 22 and wounding dozens more.

“For this to happen, we’re like, ‘Wow, this stuff is really going on and it’s so close to home right now,” said Ramon Romero, who works in Arlington. “In the wake of El Paso and Ohio, how can people be like this? Do they not have any kind of compassion or love in their heart? It frustrates me that this evil is out there.”

Chuck Morgan, the Globe Life Park public address announcer, reached out to the Romero’s on social media to apologize.

The incident, they said, won’t deter them from returning to Globe Life Park. In fact, they still have six games left on their 10-game package.

“The games we can’t make, if we have something with the kids, we’ll ask friends to take the tickets. We don’t want them to go to waste,” Ramon Romero said. “It makes no sense that someone with that kind of mindset, or who doesn’t want to be around those people, yet, you’re going to watch a team whose majority of players are Latin American. We’re good enough to watch play, but not sit next to you?”

Jessica Romero, who is a high school office assistant, said they’re too big of fans to let this incident keep them from returning.

“This would never stop us from going. We’ve had such great experiences with the fans around us,” Jessica Romero said. “Even when they’re not playing the best, we’re still going to go because we’re fans.”

Word of the incident spread to the Rangers’ clubhouse in Cleveland, where rain was threatening to delay or postpone their game Tuesday. Shortstop Elvis Andrus and center fielder Delino DeShields spoke strong against the man who offended the Romero family.

“It’s 2019, man,” said Andrus, a Venezuela native who last month became a naturalized U.S. citizen. “I don’t understand why people nowadays are still thinking about that. Your race or your color, what’s the difference? We’re all human beings in the end.”

DeShields, who is African American, said that he has dealt with racist comments coming from fans at various ballparks toward him, but said that what the Romero family experienced falls into a different category.

“That’s definitely not OK, especially when this is supposed to be the greatest country in the world,” DeShields said. “I feel like everyone should be treated equally, especially at a sporting event when people want to come to enjoy a baseball game or a football game or whatever it is.

“That’s just people being ignorant and disrespectful, and that’s not OK.”

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Stefan Stevenson has been covering sports for the Star-Telegram since 1997. He spent five years covering TCU athletics, which included two BCS bowls, two trips to the college World Series and the move to the Big 12. He has covered the Texas Rangers since 2014 and started reporting on the Dallas Cowboys in 2016.