Sports | August 10, 2021 10:50 am

Confusion Lingers About Colorado Fan Yelling at Mascot or Directing Racial Slur at Black Miami Player

After initially condemning the fan, the Rockies say he was yelling "Dinger." Lewis Brinson isn't so sure.

A close-up of Colorado Rockies mascot Dinger. Confusion Lingers About Colorado Fan Yelling at Mascot or Directing Racial Slur at Black Miami Player
Colorado Rockies mascot Dinger supports his team.
Doug Pensinger/Getty

Following team broadcasts of both the Rockies and Marlines picking up audio of a man seeming to shout a racial slur at Miami’s Lewis Brinson during Sunday’s game at Coors Field, Colorado almost immediately condemned the act with a post on social media.

“The Colorado Rockies are disgusted at the racial slur by a fan directed at the Marlins’ Lewis Brinson during the ninth inning of today’s game,” the team announced on Twitter. “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.”

However, following an investigation that involved reviewing audio and video of the incident, talking to other people in the section where the shouts originated from and interviewing the fan himself, the team came to the conclusion that the shouts were not slurs but actually attempts to get the attention of Colorado’s purple, polka-dotted dinosaur mascot Dinger.

“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 team said in a statement.

Brinson, who walked and collected two hits in Sunday’s game, said on Monday that he had watched video of the alleged incident at least 50 times and was not convinced that “Dinger” was what was being yelled. (The Rockies don’t plan to make any changes to the mascot’s name, per The Associated Press.)

“I watched it a lot, especially when I heard that he said Dinger instead of the N-word,” Brinson said on Monday night. “I personally — this is again my personal opinion — I personally keep hearing the N-word. It’s not that I want to hear it, I never want to hear it. Personally I’ve never been called that in-person to my face on the baseball field, outside the baseball field, ever, so I don’t know what my reaction would be if I got called that. But to now, saying that again, I haven’t talked to the Rockies or that fan personally. If that’s the case, then I’m sorry for any backlash or anything he’s getting right now.”

It was kind of Brinson to think of the fan, but the fact of the matter is sports fans in the U.S., and in Colorado specifically, do not deserve the benefit of the doubt at this point and it was perfectly reasonable for the team to assume guilt instead of innocence. It is great the team has determined that an ugly incident did not occur, but the fact it was so easy to believe the opposite just proves how much work is left to do.

“My initial reaction was upset, man. Nobody wants to be called that. It’s a disrespectful, disgusting word that belittles my people, Black people. It’s a disgusting word and nobody wants to hear it,” Brinson said. “I was in shock. But this does happen in our game. I don’t know if a lot of people know this. Again personally, I’ve never been called that … but I know a lot of Black players have and it’s disgusting and needs to stop like right now. There’s no place for that in sports, there’s no place for that in life. I just don’t want to have that situation thrown under the rug.”

It shouldn’t be.