The Colorado Rockies on Monday backed off from initial reports that one of their fans had shouted a racial slur at Miami Marlins outfielder Lewis Brinson.
The National League team and players union had blasted what was first believed to be a racist taunt that was picked up by home plate microphones in the ninth inning of Colorado’s 13-8 win at Coors Field on Sunday.
But NBC affiliate KUSA reported that the Rockies now believed a fan was yelling out the name of the team’s mascot, a dinosaur character named “Dinger.”
The team tweeted that, after an investigation, it determined that was case and there was no racial slur.
“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,” the Rockies said.
Brinson, a 27-year-old native of Coral Springs, Florida, did not appear to react demonstratively to the shouts, originally believed to be racial slurs. Brinson and his teammates did not hear the slur, according to a team spokesman.
Several fans in the front rows appeared to look up to their left after the shouts were heard.
MLB Players Association President Tony Clark had said in a statement that, “It is a painful reality that progress continues to be elusive in a world where ignorance and bigotry remain all too commonplace.”
The Rockies said in a statement Sunday that the team is “disgusted at the racial slur by a fan directed at the Marlins’ Lewis Brinson during the ninth inning of today’s game.”
“The Rockies have zero tolerance for any form of racism or discrimination, and any fan using derogatory language of any kind will be ejected and banned from Coors Field,” according to the team.
And Paul Severino who calls play-by-play of Marlins games on regional sports network Bally Sports Florida & Bally Sports Sun, initially said he was “absolutely disgusted at the language that was picked up by the mics.”
The game drew a crowd of 34,667. It was “Faith Day” at Coors Field and many fans remained after the game for a concert by the Christian band MercyMe.
In recent years, Major League Baseball has said it wants to draw more Black athletes to the sport that was once known for Hall of Fame players like Willie Mays, Joe Morgan, Frank Robinson and Henry Aaron.
Black or African-American players comprised just 7.6 percent of Opening Day rosters this season, according to the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida. The Black population of the U.S. is slightly more than 13 percent.