What was intended to be a night to celebrate the diversity of America turned out to be a somber reminder of our nation’s past failures, as starting pitcher Kyle Weir’s three strikeout performance prompted a ‘KKK’ sign to be hung in the stadium’s right field bleachers for 8 innings in last night’s Triple-A contest between the Pawtucket Red Sox and Syracuse Chiefs.
Though Weir’s complete game shutout was certainly a noteworthy achievement, the top story on everyone’s mind was the three oversized, makeshift K’s which were hung prominently at McCoy Stadium. The Red Sox had designated the night as Minority Appreciate Night, and any minorities in attendance were given 75-percent off ticket prices.
“It’s really a shame," said Wesley Jackson, an African-American who had brought his four children to the game. “I didn’t notice it until the 3rdinning or so, but once you see something like that you can’t unsee it. But the worst part was definitely being asked by my son what KKK meant. I mean, the racial injustices of our people isn’t something you talk about between bites of a 5 dollar hot dog.”
“Look, I’m not a racist," said Weir, clearly agitated from the chorus of boos he was greeted with as he walked off the mound after the top of the 9th. “It’s not like I don’t want to not strike people out, it just happened that way. I’m a groundball pitcher, and that’s baseball.”
This isn’t the first time a designated promotional night has gone awry for Pawtuckett. Last year the team wore their alternate, black away jerseys to a game, which drew the ire of fans who came for KKK Appreciation Night.