New York Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson has apologized to Jackie Robinson’s widow after referring to Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson as “Jackie” during Saturday’s matchup between the two teams.
Donaldson, who was suspended by the MLB over the comment, is appealing the league’s decision.
“I would also like to apologize to Mrs. Rachel Robinson and the Jackie Robinson family for any distress this incident may have caused,” Donaldson said in a statement. “Jackie was a true American hero and I hold his name in the highest regard.”
Jackie Robinson was the first black player in the big leagues and has been heralded for decades for helping to break down racial barriers in the United States. The Robinsons married in 1946. Jackie passed away in 1972.
Donaldson had apologized to Anderson after Saturday’s game while claiming that he meant the remark as a joke in reference to a 2019 interview in which Anderson referred to himself as a modern “Jackie Robinson.” He apologized again in a statement on Thursday.
“First and foremost, I have the utmost respect for what Tim Anderson brings to the game of baseball,” Donaldson added. “I stated over the weekend that I apologized for offending Tim and that it was a misunderstanding based on multiple exchanges between us over the years.”
“My view of that exchange hasn’t changed and I absolutely meant no disrespect. In the past, it had never been an issue and now that it is, we have a mutual understanding,” he said.
Anderson told media after the incident that Donaldson had previously referred to him as “Jackie,” and said he had asked the Yankees’ third baseman to refrain from calling him that.
“He did say that, and I told him we never have to talk again,” Anderson recalled earlier in the week. “I don’t speak to you, you don’t speak to me, if that’s how you want to refer to me. I know, he knew exactly what he was doing because I already told him.”
On Saturday, The Daily Wire reported that Anderson’s manager, Tony La Russa, as well as his teammates believed that Donaldson’s comments on Saturday were racially motivated. The two teams nearly fought later in the game when Donaldson came up to bat. After a review, MLB announced on Monday that Donaldson would be suspended and forced to pay an undisclosed fine.
“Donaldson is eligible to play until the league approves or rejects his appeal, but shortly before the suspension was announced Monday, the Yankees said Donaldson had been put on the COVID-19 injured list,” ESPN reported.