In the third inning of a game between the San Francisco Giants and visiting San Diego Padres on Tuesday night at Oracle Park, Giants first base coach Antoan Richardson was ejected after getting into a shouting match with Padres third base coach Mike Shildt. Richardson said Shildt instigated the encounter and Shildt’s words had “undertones of racism.”
“[Shildt] yelled, ‘You need to control that motherf—er,'” Richardson told reporters. “At that point in time, I went to the top step and said, ‘Excuse me?’ because I couldn’t believe what I heard. At that point in time, Gibson, the crew chief, decided to toss me from the game. I say this because his words were disproportionately unwarranted and reeked undertones of racism when he referred to me as ‘that motherf—er,’ as if I was to be controlled or a piece of property or enslaved. I think it’s just really important we understand what happened tonight. And the second part that’s equally disappointing is that me being tossed by that umpire empowers this coach to continue to have conversations like that with people like me, and that’s really unfortunate that’s what happened tonight.”
First there is the absurdity of two grown men, that aren’t playing in the actual game, yelling at each other. You can chalk that up to competitiveness if you want, or immaturity.
As to the substance of what Shildt yelled. “You need to control that motherf—-er” said by a white man to a Black man will always sound some type of way. Richardson is right, there are racial undertones.
Shildt was presumably yelling that to Giants manager Gabe Kapler who is white. The words, tone, and sentiment all suggest that Richardson is something that needs to be controlled. Stripping away his agency and humanity.
Now you could be fair to Shildt and say that it was the heat of the moment and the obscenity and request for “control” was to avoid further escalation. But that’s far too generous a viewpoint.
Baseball is “America’s pastime.” The sport is 146 years old. It’s as American as America gets. You know what else is America? Racism.
The country was founded and built on a system of racial hierarchy and its woven into the fabric of everything we do. Race is omnipresent, and sports are no different?
Baseball doesn’t have the greatest track record when it comes to race relations, and the sport has gotten less Black at all levels over the last few decades. There are many reasons for that, but for the Black players and managers that remain in the game, many have cited examples of racial issues an animus in an around the sport.
It was strange that the crew chief decided to toss Richardson from the game. If his account is to believed, how did he instigate the argument when it was Shildt who approached the Giants dugout? Kapler is siding with his first base coach.
“I trust Antoan’s judgment 100 percent,” Kapler said. “I trust Antoan’s judgment on the matter, and I know that Antoan was not out of control at all and that anything that was said to insinuate that he was is totally inappropriate. He didn’t instigate any part of this.”
In an ironic turn of events, Richardson’s ejection paved the way for the first woman to be on the field coaching in a Major League game. Alyssa Nakken replaced Richardson as first base coach for the remainder of the game.
A racially tinged act leads to a first for women in baseball. Race and gender in baseball. Two of the oldest struggles in the oldest sport. You can’t make this up.