Tempers flared once again between Josh Donaldson and Tim Anderson on Saturday, and the White Sox shortstop said after the game that it all stemmed from Donaldson calling him “Jackie,” in reference to Jackie Robinson, which he took offense to, and manager Tony La Russa described as a “racist comment.”
Asked about it after the game, Donaldson explained his side, saying that he did indeed call Anderson “Jackie,” but it wasn’t the first time, and was by no means meant with racial intent, rather a playful jab from an interview Anderson gave back in 2019.
“First inning, I called him Jackie,” Donaldson said. “Let me give you a little context with that. In 2019, he came out with an interview and said he’s the new Jackie Robinson of baseball, he’s gonna bring back fun to the game. In 2019, when I played for Atlanta, we actually joked about that in the game. I’ve said it to him in years past, not in any manner other than just joking around that he called himself Jackie Robinson.
“If something has changed from that, my meaning of that is not in any term trying to be racist by any fact of the matter. It was just based off an interview that he called himself. When I said that before, he joked about it and he laughed, whatever.”
The interview Donaldson is referring to is from a 2019 story with Sports Illustrated’s Stephanie Apstein, when Anderson said, “I kind of feel like today’s Jackie Robinson. That’s huge to say. But it’s cool, man, because he changed the game, and I feel like I’m getting to a point to where I need to change the game.”
The comments were in reference to Anderson’s desire to inject more fun into baseball, as he had been criticized by “old-school” corners of the baseball crowd for his bat flips and emotion he shows on the field. But if he had joked with Donaldson about that interview in the past, he clearly didn’t find it funny on Saturday, though Donaldson said the intent was still out of playfulness, and trying to bury the hatchet that stemmed from last week’s game in Chicago, when he placed a hard tag on Anderson at third base and benches emptied.
“As you can tell in our series that we’ve played, there have been multiple times that I’ve tried to diffuse the situation,” Donaldson said. “I took responsibility for the tag, wasn’t trying to do anything there. today I was trying to diffuse the situation and make light. Obviously we’re not trying to start any brawls or anything like that. Obviously he deemed that it was disrespectful, and if he did, I apologize. That’s not what I was trying to do by any manner.”
Follow Ryan Chichester on Twitter: @ryanchichester1