This is Adam Jones' account of what it was like to be at Fenway Park on Monday night and hear at least a few offensive fans try to turn their sections at Fenway into 1947:
"A disrespectful person threw a bag of peanuts at me and I got called the 'N' word a handful of times. It was pretty awesome out there. Just part of the job, right? That's one of the worst nights. It's very unfortunate to be honest with you …
"It's unfortunate that people need to resort to those type of epithets to degrade another human being. I'm out there trying to make a living for myself and my family. The best thing about myself is that I know how to move on and still play the game hard and let people be who they are and let them show their true colors."
Jones said that 50 or 60 people were ejected from Fenway as the Orioles were beating the Red Sox, 5-2. The Orioles heard 58. Red Sox officials told The Boston Globe it was fewer than 30 fans ejected on Monday night.
Now the Red Sox have issued a statement apologizing to Jones, as well steeped in the history of Jackie Roosevelt Robinson as any young player, white or black, in his sport. The mayor of Boston has apologized to Jones. So has the governor of Massachusetts. In so many ways, what Adam Jones was really doing after the game was speaking truth to power: Power of his character, power of his talent as a baseball player.
"Adam is," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said on Tuesday morning, "blatantly honest."
So Jones heard himself called the N-word at Fenway, on a night when emotions were still running hot because of a collision between Manny Machado and Dustin Pedroia in Baltimore the last time the two teams played, and because Matt Barnes of the Red Sox, in a Stupidville moment for him and for his team, retaliated two days later by throwing one over Machado's head.
Then on Monday, of course, Dylan Bundy of the Orioles hit Mookie Betts, the best player on the Red Sox the way Machado is the best player on the Orioles, with a pitch in the sixth inning of what was still a 2-0 game at the time. Barnes said the pitch near Machado's head got away from him, in a moment when he seemed to confuse the screen behind home plate with the strike zone. Bundy said he was just pitching inside. So it goes with the codes of baseball, which are sometimes as elegant as a knife fight, and just as dumb.
And so in the middle of all that at Fenway on Monday night, there were some bums turning the place lousy. And one bum for sure was overheated enough or overserved enough (and probably both) to direct what is still the worst epithet of American life, and one that somehow is never relegated to the country's past, at Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles.
How did Jones respond? He responded by making great plays in the outfield the way Machado, who you thought might be Public Enemy No. 1 for at least some Red Sox fans on this night, made even more dazzling plays in the infield. Jones and Machado caught everything except the bag of peanuts Showalter said that somebody threw at Jones and hit a policeman instead.
"That got him kind of involved, too," Showalter said.
We learn about all of this lousiness from Adam Jones a couple of weeks after we once again celebrate the life and career of Jackie Robinson in baseball and in America. My dear friend Pete Hamill, friend and one of my writing heroes, was a kid in Brooklyn in 1947 when Robinson first ran out to first base at Ebbets Field. It was Hamill who once told me, "Jackie didn't just integrate baseball. He integrated the stands." It is as fine a part of his legacy as anything else. The old men who were there in those days still tell stories about all the white man who came to the ballpark to call the African-American ballplayer what Jones got called at Fenway on Monday night and ended up standing and cheering for Jackie Robinson by game's end.
But as well as Jones handled things when it was over -- Showalter said he heard no mention of what was going on with him while the ballgame was going on -- we were still reminded on Monday that race is and always will be the third rail in our country, and in Boston, Mass.
Gov. Charlie Baker said this on Twitter on Tuesday morning: "Fenway fans behavior at the Red Sox game last night was unacceptable & shameful. This is not what Massachusetts & Boston are about."
The Red Sox's Mookie Betts then offered his support to Jones on Tuesday afternoon.
A kid named Niko Poulakidas, a senior at Woburn High School on his way to Salem State in the fall, was in the bleachers on Monday night, out in center near where the Green Monster ends. He was, he says, 15 or 20 rows behind the guy who eventually called Jones the N-word and got himself ejected.
"Early on, people were laughing that he was throwing peanuts at Jones. But towards the end, I realized most people were just giving dirty looks," said Poulakidas. "The N-word was the turning point for sure. Once that was said, everything turned serious."
I asked him if anybody stood up and tried to stop the guy.
"The guy seemed drunk and angry, which is probably why no one said anything to him at first. No one wants to start a fight. There probably wasn't a way to reason with a meathead of his magnitude."
Poulakidas continued, "Some fans finally started yelling 'shut up' and calling him a 'jabroni.' But the turning point really was when people went from laughing about the peanuts to being angry that he said the N-word. Guy was ... definitely drinking."
It is Poulakidas' recollection that the man doing the yelling at Jones was finally ejected in the seventh inning.
"The vendor selling beer up and down the crowd refused to serve him," the kid said. "When the vendor got to the guy behind me, he said, 'Bunch of ----ing dopes down there."
Those dopes? They're still everywhere in America. They just happened to be in Boston on Monday night, near the Orioles dugout when a bag of peanuts hit a policeman. A few fans at Fenway isn't all of them, of course. It is still a few too many. One is one too many. It is why everybody in the place on Tuesday night ought to give Adam Jones a standing ovation the first time he comes to the plate, and another one the first time he runs out to center field. The night after, let him hear something else from Red Sox fans. Let him hear a cheer like that, the night after just getting angry wasn't enough to drown out one hateful voice at Fenway Park that the whole country ended up hearing.