Adam Jones calls banana incident 'unfortunate' and says he wants to move on

PHOENIX -- A day after posting a tweet saying a banana was thrown toward him during Sunday’s game in San Francisco, Orioles center fielder Adam Jones tried to move on from the incident.

In the bottom of the ninth inning of the Orioles' 10-2 win over the Giants at AT&T Park, Jones said a banana was on the ground in center field near him. Witnesses said Jones calmly picked up the banana and laid it over the center field fence.

Monday, Jones wouldn’t specifically say he thought the act was racially motivated — there have been incidents at sporting events where bananas were thrown at black athletes on the field, which is considered a racist act, particularly in European soccer matches — but he said there was no place in the game for it.

“I’m one of the nicest guys out there,” Jones said as the Orioles prepared to play the Arizona Diamondbacks. “I get an attitude here and there, but [throwing items on the field are] just actions that don’t ever need to happen in sports. It’s unfortunate that things happen like that, but it ain’t gonna stop me, myself and the Orioles. We have games to win. It’s mid-August. I’ve got a bigger concern on my head than someone’s ignorance or act of whatever.”

Jones said he worried about it more as a player safety issue. Earlier this year, a can was thrown toward left fielder Nate McLouth during a game in Toronto.

“I personally don’t have no hard feelings about it. It’s just an unfortunate thing that happened,” Jones said. “You never know what kind of things can be thrown at a player. Our backs are turned. You never know what can be thrown in our direction. I just look at it as a safety issue. When my back is turned, I don’t know what is going on there, so we just look at it as a liability. Whatever certain object it was, I could care less.”

Asked whether Jones had ever been subjected to such an act before, Jones quickly said, “I’m from San Diego, man. You don’t see that kind of stuff.”

After his initial tweet, Jones shared displeasure over the way some reacted to his tweet, saying he would likely get off social media soon.

“I can say whatever I want through my own social media,” Jones said. “I can just voice my opinion. … People can say whatever they want, so sometimes I can too. … I can say that and then my next tweet was that I was having some tamales. You guys are blowing it up more than I would. I understand it, but it was an unfortunate incident, that’s all it is.”

The San Jose Mercury News reported Monday that a fan called the newspaper claiming he threw the banana on the field in frustration about the Giants’ poor play and that it was in no way racially motivated. The Giants couldn’t confirm that it was the fan involved in the incident.

Giants spokesman Jim Moorehead said Monday that a review of the ballpark’s security cameras didn’t reveal any fan throwing an object onto the field in the bottom of the ninth, nor did they didn’t catch Jones picking up the banana. But the security cameras are more focused on the stands.

Moorehead said that fruit — including bananas — is sold at AT&T Park.

Earlier Monday, the Giants issued an apology to Jones and the Orioles.

“We are extremely disappointed to learn about the incident involving Adam Jones at AT&T Park yesterday,” the statement read. “The Giants have a zero tolerance policy against this type of behavior, which results in immediate ejection from the ballpark.

“We would like to extend our sincerest apology to Adam and the entire Orioles organization for this unfortunate incident. The inappropriate actions of this individual in no way reflect the values of our organization and our fans.”

Orioles fan and Rockville native Alex Bastow attended Sunday’s game and said that from the club level he saw a yellow object thrown into center field.

“At first I really didn’t know what it was,” said Bastow, 25. “I thought it might have been just a piece of trash or something. I figured Adam would make a gesture or something in a playful way, but he just picked it up and kind of laid it up over the center field fence and didn’t react to it.”

It wasn’t until Bastow saw Jones’ tweet that he realized that Jones said the item was a banana.

“There’s just no place for that,” Bastow said.

Orioles fan and San Francisco resident Michael Bowling, who was sitting in the center field bleachers, said he saw a banana peel fly from the stands while Jones and McLouth were playing catch before the bottom of the ninth inning.

Bowling, who moved to San Francisco from Canton two months ago, also said he saw Jones pick up the peel and casually lay it over the fence.

“You couldn’t tell it bothered him at all,” said Bowling, 30. “It was mostly Orioles fans at that point. We were all yelling to him and he was pointing back at us. They finished the game and did the jump thing in the outfield. It didn’t seem like a big deal at all until I heard more about it later.”

Throwing a banana in the direction of a black player has occurred as various sporting events.

A banana was thrown at Philadelphia Flyers hockey player Wayne Simmonds, who is black, while he was on the ice during an 2011 exhibition game. In Europe, black soccer players have been subject to a variety of racist acts, including having bananas thrown at them.

In 2011, former Orioles outfielder Luke Scott said in an ESPN The Magazine article that he would put banana chips in Dominican teammate Felix Pie’s helmet “whenever he acts like an animal.”

At the time, Jones defended Scott. “I don’t think Luke means any racist thing by it,” Jones said. “Trust me, if I see racism, I’ll say some [stuff]. Quickly.”

eencina@baltsun.com
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