*During a Miami Marlins game against the Colorado Rockies on Sunday, outfielder Lewis Brinson swore he heard a fan at Coors Field yell the N-word at him twice while he was in the batter’s box. It was so loud that the word was picked up on the television broadcast, and was convincing enough for the Rockies to issue a statement condemning such language and vowing to ban the offender.
But, upon further review by the Rockies, they concluded that the fan was not yelling “Ni**er!” to Brinson. He was shouting “Dinger!,” the name of the Rockies mascot. Subsequent video of the moment shared on social media shows the fan looking toward the mascot as he’s shouting the word in question. The man said he was at the game with his wife and grandkids and was trying to get Dinger’s attention for a photo.
Below, watch the TV broadcast of the moment, followed by footage of the fan yelling the word:
The club spoke to what it believes was the fan in question and other fans, and said in a statement that after a “thorough investigation that included calls, emails and video clips from concerned fans, media and broadcast partners, the Colorado Rockies have concluded that the fan was indeed yelling for Rockies mascot Dinger in hopes of getting his attention for a photo, and there was never any racial slur that occurred.”
Brinson said that after watching video of the moment at least 50 times, he can’t shake what he believes he heard.
“I personally keep hearing the n-word. It’s not that I want to hear it,” Brinson said Monday on a video call from San Diego before the Marlins’ game with the Padres. “I never want to hear that word. Personally, I’ve never been called that, in person, to my face, on the baseball field, or outside the baseball field, ever, so I don’t know what my reaction would be if I got called that. I haven’t talked to the Rockies, I haven’t talked to that fan personally – but if that’s the case, I’m sorry for any backlash or anything that he’s getting right now. I know we’re getting a lot of love and support on Instagram and I’m sure on Twitter and I appreciate that.
“But again, I’m a human. I have sympathy. If he was yelling for the mascot, I am sorry for the backlash and unnecessary attention he’s getting right now.”
Brinson, 27, is a part-time player who has spent parts of the past four seasons with the Marlins. He says he receives crude, hateful, racist messages with that N-word once or twice a month on social media.
“They don’t show their face and don’t tag themselves on their posts or the DM they send me,” he says, “but I do get it, once a month, twice a month. I know other Black players get it more. We do get called the n-word on social media. It’s disgusting. We see it and try to block it out, but it’s a disgusting, degrading word that brings nothing but hate and cowardliness.
“There’s no place for it. It does happen and I don’t want to just throw that under the rug. I want everybody to know that it does happen to Black players, quite often, way too often.”
Brinson spent part of Monday talking with former teammates Curtis Granderson and Cameron Maybin; Granderson is president of the Players’ Alliance, a coalition of mostly Black current and former major leaguers who formed last year in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. Brinson says he does not yet know if the Alliance and Black ballplayers will accept the Rockies’ conclusion.