NEW YORK (AP) – Last month when former Major League star Torii Hunter said it had been called the word N “a hundred times” in legendary Boston Fenway Park, the Red Sox were quickly to support him with a promise to fight racism.
“Torii Hunter’s experience is real,” the team said in a June 10 Twitter article, adding that there have been at least seven incidents as recently as last year where fans had used racial insults. The team promised to do a better job against racism: “As we identify how we can do better, know that we are listening.”
But those words sounded hollow for more than a dozen black men who have spent the past few years trying to get the Red Sox to listen to their allegations that they had been sexually abused by a former director of the deceased Red Sox club. in 2005.
Former club manager Donald “Fitzy” Fitzpatrick pleaded guilty to attempted sexual violence in 2002, admitting that he used memories of the Red Sox team to lure young club workers black in remote areas of the Florida team’s spring training center, where he abused them. Fitzpatrick did not admit having abused young boys in other ball fields.
Since then, an increasing number of men have come forward to allege that they were also abused by Fitzpatrick at Fenway Park and in major league stadiums in Baltimore and Kansas City when the Red Sox played on the road. Because their claims date back to the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, they are too old to be included in civil suits, and the men say their claims have fallen on deaf ears.
Gerald Armstrong, 65, said he believed the team knew that Fitzpatrick, who had worked for the Red Sox for decades, attacked youths hired as bat boys, ball boys and clubhouse attendants. “You can’t tell me you can have 30 or 40 guys traveling with him and observing his behavior without knowing what he was doing,” said Armstrong.
Armstrong said former Red Sox first baseman George Scott, known as “Boomer,” had often told him to “stay away from Fitzy.” Scott died seven years ago.
“It was another slap in the face for me,” said Charles Crawford, 45, an African American from Taunton, Massachusetts, after hearing the Red Sox’s latest anti-racism statement at Fenway Park. Crawford alleged that Fitzpatrick abused him in a locked storage room and in the team showers at Fenway Park when he was 16 years old in the summer of 1991.
“It would be a good time for the Red Sox to show everyone what they think about what they say,” said Armstrong, who says he was the first young black to be hired at the club. – visitors’ house by the former Kansas City Athletics – only to have been allegedly abused by Fitzpatrick several times in a storage room of the stadium and of the historic Muehlebach hotel in downtown Kansas City.
When contacted by the Associated Press, Daniel Goldberg, a lawyer for the Red Sox, reissued a statement the team released in 2017, noting that Fitzpatrick had pleaded guilty to criminal charges under the previous property of the ‘team.
“The Red Sox have always viewed Mr. Fitzpatrick’s actions – which date back six decades – as heinous,” said the team’s statement. “When the previously detained team learned of the allegations against Mr. Fitzpatrick in 1991, they were quickly relieved of their duties.”
Mitchell Garabedian, a lawyer representing 21 men who claimed to have been abused by Fitzpatrick – 15 of whom are black – has lobbied for friendly settlements with the Red Sox, three other teams and Major League Baseball for years, but without success. enjoy. Recently, following the death of George Floyd and anti-racism statements issued by the Red Sox, Major League Baseball and several teams, Garabedian tried again to open negotiations, without success.
“It is inconceivable to me that they would not want to help these victims these days,” said Garabedian, known for his work representing victims of sexual abuse committed by members of the Catholic clergy, including those who participated to a settlement in 2002 with the Archdiocese of Boston.
Forbes magazine recently established the Red Sox at $ 3.3 billion, the third of 30 major league football clubs. In a recent ranking of billionaires, the magazine also estimated the net worth of main owner John Henry at $ 2.6 billion.
Today’s Red Sox, led by Henry, who also owns the Boston Globe, have worked to erase the team’s racist past since the franchise was purchased in 2002.
Under the leadership of the late Tom Yawkey, the former owner of the team, the Red Sox were the last major league team to integrate, signing inner field player Elijah “Pumpsie” Green in 1959, more a decade after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier by signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers. .
In addition, the Red Sox had a chance to sign Robinson before going to the Dodgers, and they agreed to sign another Hall of Fame member Willie Mays.
Two years ago, the Red Sox tried to get away from the team’s racist legacy by asking the city of Boston to remove Yawkey’s name from a street along Fenway Park. The request sparked opposition from a group of civic leaders who said the move would tarnish Yawkey’s charitable record. But the Red Sox prevailed and today Yawkey Way has returned to its original name, Jersey Street.
Crawford and Armstrong, who have long accused Fitzpatrick of abuse, said the former clubhouse manager had used official caps and baseballs to train them and others in private environments in the parks. balls from major leagues and other places.
Garabedian said three of the 21 alleged victims claim that Fitzpatrick assaulted them after appearing at small league games in Boston and Brockton and telling them he was a scout for major league baseball.
“He was very active,” said Garabedian.
Garabedian seeks $ 5 million for each of the 21 alleged victims.
But Armstrong said he was speaking largely to encourage all black men who are victims of child sexual abuse to overcome the shame or embarrassment they may feel so that they can recognize what has hurt them. been done and get the advice they probably need.
“I think a lot of black men have been attacked and for cultural reasons they just don’t show up to deal with it,” he said. “And if you don’t take care of it, you’re looking at a lot of emotional issues.”
Source: AP News