'Racist comment' ignites blowup between White Sox's Anderson, Yanks' Donaldson
On April 15, the White Sox played the Tampa Bay Rays at Guaranteed Rate Field.
It was an important game for Sox shortstop Tim Anderson, who is Black. It was Jackie Robinson Day and the 75th anniversary of the Brooklyn Dodgers star breaking baseball's color barrier.
"It's always special to be able to go out and put 42 on," Anderson said of Major League Baseball's annual tribute where every player in uniform wears Robinson's No. 42 on the their backs. "It's the guy that paved the way for a guy like me. Just what he brought to the game, he means so much to the game, he means so much to the world, he means so much to the community."
Skip ahead a month, when the Sox hosted the Yankees in the second of a four-game series.
In the bottom of the first inning, the White Sox loaded the bases with one out and Anderson was on third.
After Gavin Sheets struck out swinging, New York catcher Jose Trevino threw down to third base trying to pick off Anderson. Donaldson, the Yankees' third baseman, hit Anderson with a pretty forceful tag.
Words were exchanged and both benches emptied, but there was no brawl and barely a push or shove.
Skip ahead to Saturday, when the Sox and New York met up at Yankee Stadium.
At the end of the third inning, Anderson and Donaldson had words coming off the field.
When he came up to the plate in the fifth, White Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal had something to say to Donaldson.
"This game went through a period of time where comments like that were made," Grandal told reporters after the White Sox lost to the Yankees 7-5. "I think we are past that."
Following the game, Anderson said Donaldson twice called him "Jackie."
"He made a racist comment," Sox manager Tony La Russa said. "That's all I'm going to say."
Anderson has plenty to say about it.
"He made a disrespectful comment," the White Sox's shortstop said. "Basically tried to call me Jackie Robinson, 'What's up Jackie?' I don't play like that. I don't need to play at all. I wasn't really bothering nobody today but he made a comment and it was disrespectful and I don't think it was called for."
Donaldson spoke to the New York media after the game and said he was joking with Anderson.
"I called him Jackie," Donaldson said. "He came out with an interview that says he's the new Jackie Robinson. We've actually joked about that. I've said it to him in years past, not in any manner than just joking around."
Anderson wasn't hearing any humor Saturday. After Grandal got in Donaldson's face in the fifth inning, Anderson snapped and had to be restrained and pulled back to the dugout by a group of White Sox led by Jose Abreu.
"I want to make sure I've got my teammate's back," Grandal said. "There's no way you're allowed to say something like that. It's unacceptable."
Donaldson seemed confused over Anderson's reaction Saturday.
"Obviously, he deemed it was disrespectful," Donaldson said. "If he did, I apologize."