MLB Reportedly Investigating 'Disrespectful' Comment Yankees' Josh Donaldson Made to Sox's Tim Anderson

·3 min read
Josh Donaldson #28 of the New York Yankees and Tim Anderson #7 of the Chicago White Sox
Josh Donaldson #28 of the New York Yankees and Tim Anderson #7 of the Chicago White Sox

Julio Aguilar/Getty, Patrick McDermott/Getty

Major League Baseball is reportedly investigating recent comments made by New York Yankees designated hitter Josh Donaldson toward Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson, according to ESPN.

During the fifth inning of the Yankees' 7-5 win over the Sox Saturday, tensions boiled and both benches were cleared when Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal confronted Donaldson at home plate.

Players from both teams later revealed that Donaldson called Anderson "Jackie" a number of times during the game, referring to iconic MLB player Jackie Robinson, who was Black. Sox manager Tony La Russa claimed it was "a racist comment" directed at Anderson, who is Black.

"He made a disrespectful comment," Anderson told reporters. "I don't really play like that. I don't really play at all. I wasn't really bothering nobody today but he made the comment and it was disrespectful. It was unnecessary. It was just uncalled for."

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New York Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson, left, and Chicago White Sox baserunner Tim Anderson (7) exchange words in the first inning on May 13, 2022, at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago.
New York Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson, left, and Chicago White Sox baserunner Tim Anderson (7) exchange words in the first inning on May 13, 2022, at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago.

Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty

Anderson said it occurred on multiple occasions during the game, telling reporters that he "spared him" the first time but got heated with Donaldson when the comment was made again.

Following the incident, Donaldson admitted to making the "Jackie" comments but claimed there was no racist intent, noting that he believed it was an inside joke between the two athletes.

"I called him Jackie. In 2019, he came out with an interview and said that 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," Donaldson said. (He was referring to Anderson's May 2019 interview with Sports Illustrated in which he said, "I kind of feel like today's Jackie Robinson.")

"My meaning of that is not any term trying to be racist by any fact of the matter. It was just off of an interview of what he called himself," he added. "Obviously he deemed that it was disrespectful and look if he did, I apologize. That's not what I was trying to do by any manner and that's what happened."

The MLB is investigating the situation and "speaking to all of the relevant parties involved," a source told ESPN. The league did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

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On Sunday, Sox closer Liam Hendriks slammed Donaldson's "delusional" explanation of the incident.

"That's completely inappropriate, and then after hearing what was said after the game, usually you have inside jokes with the people you get along with, not people that don't get along at all," Hendriks told reporters of Donaldson's explanation. "So that statement right there was complete bulls—."

Meanwhile, Yankees manager Aaron Boone added that Donaldson shouldn't have made the comment regardless of his intent.

"I don't believe there was any malicious intent in that regard," he told reporters. "But you know, this is, just in my opinion, somewhere he should not be going."