Jack Morris suspended indefinitely after racist on-air comment about Shohei Ohtani
Bally Sports Detroit broadcaster Jack Morris has been suspended indefinitely from Tigers broadcasts after making an offensive comment regarding Angels star Shohei Ohtani during the Angels’ 8-2 win over the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday.
Morris, a Hall of Fame former pitcher who has been a TV analyst since 2013 and was in his fourth year calling Tigers games, was asked on the broadcast how the Tigers should approach Ohtani as he came to the plate in the sixth inning.
Morris responded, “be very, very careful,” but in an apparent fake Asian accent.
After the clip was shared and ridiculed on social media, Morris made an on-air apology later in the game as Ohtani — who is from Japan — came back to the plate in the top of the ninth.
Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani gave up one run over eight innings and hit his 40th home run of the season in a 3-1 win over the Detroit Tigers.
“It’s been brought to my attention, and I sincerely apologize if I offended anybody, especially anybody in the Asian community, for what I said about pitching and being careful to Shohei Ohtani,” Morris said. “I did not intend for any offensive thing, and I apologize if I did. I certainly respect and have the utmost respect for this guy.”
On Wednesday, Bally Sports Detroit announced that, along with the suspension, Morris “will be undergoing bias training to educate him on the impact of his comments and how he can be a positive influence in a diverse community.”
“We have a zero-tolerance policy for bias or discrimination and deeply apologize for his insensitive remark,” Bally Sports Detroit continued in its statement.
The Tigers also issued a statement, saying they were “deeply disappointed by the comments made by Jack Morris during the broadcast last night. We fully support Bally Sports Detroit’s decision and their ongoing commitment to ensure that all personnel are held to the highest standards of personal conduct.”
Morris, 66, was a five-time All-Star who spent 14 of his 18 major league seasons playing for the Tigers between 1977 and 1990.
Angels manager Joe Maddon said before Wednesday’s game that he felt Morris’s on-air apology was sincere.
“My take on the whole thing is that the Detroit Tigers reacted the way they wanted to,” Maddon said. “And I know Jack and he apologized.”
Morris didn’t reach out to the Angels to apologize, only doing so on the broadcast Tuesday night.
“This sport is arguably the most diverse sport in, certainly, the four major sports here in the U.S.,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch told reporters Wednesday. “And it should be celebrated. The athletes that we get to celebrate tonight — we’re talking about Shohei Ohtani and Miguel Cabrera, two of the biggest names that are coming into the game, both vastly different backgrounds from different countries, different parts of the world, and they’re a part of our great sport.
“So we need to celebrate that and certainly learn that comments like that are not only unnecessary but unwarranted.”
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