ESPN reporter Clinton Yates appeared on “The Paul Finebaum Show” on Tuesday, and he described how Vanderbilt baseball players’ parents were treated with hostility and racist behavior during Monday’s College World Series game against Mississippi State.
Yates said that after the game he was at an establishment, and someone came in and told him that someone was thrown out for yelling racist slurs at Vanderbilt baseball players’ parents.
He said he then inquired with several people that he knew, and they all had similar stories.
“Basically what occurred was, as soon as the game got out of hand, the entire level of the discourse went up tremendously in terms of the chirping, in terms of the such-and-such,” Yates said. “And when it got to the level of what we’ll just call: the word you’re not supposed to say. And that happened on multiple occasions is when, finally, they had to decide that police needed to get involved.”
Vanderbilt’s baseball team scored seven runs in the bottom of the first inning Monday on the way to an 8-2 win.
Yates said the police getting involved led to several people being moved in the stands. He couldn’t confirm that anyone was thrown out, but he said everyone got home safely.
Some of the people Yates said he talked to were “the manager’s wife,” the mother of an unnamed player Yates referred to as a “star” and an usher.
“I’m going to believe them in that scenario, because there is no reason to make that up — especially considering what I’d seen with my eyes literally an inning before in terms of the vitriol in that park,” Yates said.
Yates said that he’d gone down to the section where the Vanderbilt parents were sitting before the game and saw hostility at that point.
“I went down before the game, and you could tell the environment was hostile,” Yates said. “When I went down there the second time, it was a wildly different environment. We’re hearing a lot of chirping that’s on the line of things — what are you going to call them slurs, are you going to call them offensive. But when you’re yelling at parents that their kids should earn their scholarships and you’re in the middle of a baseball game — that’s just to me, that’s not the kind of thing that you want to hear, especially when you’re outnumbered literally and physically.”
Yates was concerned about how things might escalate during the game at that point.
“Quite frankly, as a Black person in America, I looked at that and I was like, ‘This is not the kind of environment that is going to end well,'” Yates said.
Yates also said on Finebaum that this isn’t the first time he’s seen vitriol toward the Vanderbilt baseball parents.
“I’ve seen this thing happen with that word in many harsher ways toward this fan base and this parent base in plenty of other places,” Yates said. “This is not new. This is part of the deal on a certain level.”
Yates said there are eight members of the Vanderbilt baseball team that are Black.
“This is a safety matter for people that are there trying to root for their children about amateur baseball,” Yates said. “If it gets anything close to this level of discourse, something has gone awry, and it doesn’t really, in fact, matter why, it matters that we understand who’s responsible so that these kind of bad actors can be removed from the equation for the sake of the program and the preceding of the world.”
Yates said that Vanderbilt has talked to the NCAA to make sure its fans are protected for any remaining games at the College World Series.
Vanderbilt athletic director Candice Lee and Mississippi State athletic director John Cohen both put out statements Tuesday about what occurred.
Since 2016, Yates has been a writer for ESPN. Prior to ESPN, Yates worked for The Washington Post for nine years, according to his ESPN bio.
Here’s more Vanderbilt, MS State baseball news:
Vanderbilt, which is one win away from winning the national title, comes into Tuesday’s game 49-16 overall. Mississippi State enters Tuesday’s matchup 48-18 overall.
Entering Tuesday, Mississippi State leads Vanderbilt in the all-time series 72-53-2.
Erik Hall is the lead digital producer for sports with the USA Today Network. You can find him on Twitter @HallErik.
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