Barry Bonds has had an interesting year. He has been under scrutiny for the investigation into BALCO and steroid use. He continues to hit home runs and make an assault on the all-time record held by Hank Aaron.
Bonds lost his father, Bobby earlier in the year. For the most part, Bonds has been quiet and has stayed out of the papers. That is, until now.
In Friday’s Boston Globe, Bonds talked to reporter Gordon Edes. Bonds made a big splash right away by telling Edes, “Boston is too racist for me. I couldn’t play there.”
And when told that the racial climate has changed, Bonds replied, “It ain’t changing. It ain’t changing nowhere.”
Bonds acknowledged his opinions are not from first-hand experience, but from the word of others.
The fear of African-Americans is well-founded. Those old enough to remember can harken back to the 1970’s when blacks were bussed into South Boston schools. White adults were seen nightly on network newscasts yelling racial ephitets at high school students as they entered the school.
And African-Americans can remember October 23, 1989 when a pregnant Carol Stuart was found shot to death in her car in a predominantly black section of Boston. Her husband, Charles pointed the finger at a black man. Police scrounged the city looking for the suspect. William Bennett, was arrested on a separate charge. The media went into a frenzy as police officers leaked Bennett as the possible shooter. Charles Stuart made the positive ID just after the Christmas holiday. But days after Bennett was identified, Stuart committed suicide by jumping off a bridge. It was later discovered that Stuart shot his wife and played off the inherent racism of the city.
It is these and other incidents that have played into the fears of African American free agents. They have not wanted to come to Boston in fear of racism. And the Boston Red Sox organization until recently has had a poor history of developing African American players. Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays were rejected by the Red Sox despite having ample opportunities to sign them.
Until the John Henry ownership group purchased the Red Sox in 2002, the Red Sox had a reputation of being a racist team. African-Americans living in Boston generally rooted for other teams. And the Red Sox did little to reach out to the minority communit to come to Fenway Park.
Give credit to the Henry ownership for trying to reverse the damage done by the Yawkey Trust. It has made huge strides to reaching recruit new fans. But it will take a long way to convince players such as Barry Bonds that Boston is no longer a racist city.
And so it goes.