Jackie Bradley Jr. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)
Talking to Jackie Bradley Jr., it’s clear that the Red Sox outfielder has a deep respect for those who came before him.
He has discussed in length about his admiration for Jackie Robinson, while also making a point to visit the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum last season. And when it comes to honoring Martin Luther King Jr. Day Monday, Bradley Jr. noted while appearing on the Bradfo Sho podcast, “[King Jr.] just wanted everybody to be treated equal and that was the message that he preached. And to this day everybody would want that, or at least I know I do.”
So when the topic of living life as an African-American major league baseball player in Boston came up on the podcast, Bradley Jr. was predictably insightful
It is a topic of particular interest, not only because of the man the nation celebrates on Jan. 16, but also because of recent news items involving the Celtics’ Jae Crowder and Bradley Jr.’s Red Sox teammate, David Price, who told the Boston Globe he has heard racial taunts at Fenway Park.
“Overall experience, I have had nothing too terribly negative said about me,” he said. “I can only speak about my experience. As a whole, you will have people here and there, but that’s just some people. That’s not a majority. You can link everybody as a majority. It was definitely an adjustment period for me because I’m from the South so the weather, for one, was an adjustment. Just people’s personalities. LIke opening doors for people and not hearing ‘Thank you,’ I would always say, ‘You’re welcome’ to get them to have a response. But that’s not everyone. I’ve enjoyed my time in Boston. I have nothing negative to say about it. I know my wife enjoys it. I’ve been very welcome and I haven’t heard anything personally directly to me said negatively.
“Social media is social media. Anybody can write something. But those same people are probably the same people who are first in line to speak to you, or get an autograph. You kind of just take it how it is and go about your business.”
Growing up in Virginia, and going to college at the University of South Carolina, Bradley Jr.’s had also heard about, and researched, the sometimes uncomfortable history of race relations in Boston, and involving the Red Sox.
“I’ve heard a lot of different things, knowing Boston was the last American League team to have an African-American player in MLB. I kind of researched a little bit about [former Red Sox owner Tom] Yawkey … ,” he said.
“I’m definitely able to speak on certain things and speak my mind, because I feel comfortable talking about certain situations. Those are things you know coming in, but I don’t let that kind of stuff distract me from the goal at hand. I’m here to compete, help my team win, provide for my family and kind of everything else is everything else. I’m focused and I want to win, and that’s what it all boils down to.”
While Bradley Jr. downplays the effect any perceived racial issues have had on him during his time in the Red Sox organization, he also hasn’t totally immune to the kind of vitriol Price spoke of.
“I definitely had a lot of struggle in 2014. I think that was most racist type things that were directed toward me during that time,” Bradley Jr. said. “But it’s all growing pains. If you don’t know what somebody has been through, the adversity they’ve been through, it’s kind of hard to make that judgment. They’re judging solely off of performance in my career, which, by the way, was just getting started. There is definitely a lot of room to grow and improve. I’m willing to put the work in and I feel like last year was a stepping stone in showing that.”
TO LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE PODCAST WITH JACKIE BRADLEY JR., CLICK HERE