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Toronto Blue Jays Player Booed In First Home Game Since Wearing Anti-Gay Slur

Friday Sep 28, 2012

TORONTO - Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar was greeted with a smattering of boos Thursday night during his first home game since writing an anti-gay slur on his eye-black.

A few fans booed when Escobar's name was announced as the lineups were read for Toronto's game against the New York Yankees. There was a mix of boos and cheers as Escobar batted in the bottom of the first inning, and he lined out.

Escobar was suspended by the team for three games earlier this month after he wore the slur written in Spanish during a game against Boston. The 29-year-old Cuban infielder later apologized and said he meant it as a joke.

Escobar caught the ceremonial first pitch from David Testo, a former MLS soccer player who is openly gay. Testo is now a board member for You Can Play, an advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender athletes.

Before the game, Escobar sat down with Jose Estevez, an openly gay distance runner from Boston College, and Patrick Burke, the founder of You Can Play.

Escobar's lost salary during his three-game ban - about US$82,000 - was to be directed to You Can Play and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

Burke said the 45-minute meeting was helpful for all parties.

"I think it put a face on the issue for Yunel," Burke said. "I think it humanized the issue of gay athletes for Yunel and I think Jose did a great job today."

"After meeting with him, I like Yunel," Burke said. "I think he did a stupid thing but I think he has learned from it."

Burke is the son of Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke and the older brother of the late Brendan Burke, who publicly revealed his homosexuality in November 2009. Burke died in a car accident in February 2010.

"He's really sorry for what he did and I felt the sincerity when I was talking to him," Estevez said.

The eyeblack incident created some backlash among Toronto baseball fans.

For example, an online petition asking the Blue Jays to create a You Can Play video encouraging the acceptance of homosexuals in sports has been started by openly-gay Blue Jays fan Christopher Papps.

Blue Jays manager John Farrell said he considered holding Escobar out of the lineup Thursday, but decided against it, putting him at shortstop and batting him fourth.

"He understands whatever comes his way is part of the process," Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. "He made a terrible mistake and is going to have to be accountable."

Following his suspension - issued after input from commissioner Bud Selig, the players' union and team management - Escobar sat out three games against the Yankees last week, returning as pinch hitter in Friday's loss at Tampa Bay.

Farrell met with Escobar at the end of his suspension to discuss what he called "baseball things." Farrell said it was not the first time the two had spoken.

Read it on Global News: Global Toronto | Jays' Escobar booed in first home game since wearing anti-gay slur on eyeblack

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  • Cristasphoto, 2012-09-28 22:07:29

    Wow have times changed. I remember when a friend and I both of us Transwomen had bottles thrown at us and security refused to intervene nor assist. And an Anaheim Angels player mad dogged me.

  • Cristasphoto, 2012-09-28 22:08:39

    Wow have times changed. I remember when a friend and I both of us Transwomen had bottles thrown at us and security refused to intervene nor assist. And an Anaheim Angels player mad dogged me.All this happened at the Oakland Collesium at the Athletics games...

  • Bob K, 2012-09-29 15:43:22

    This guy needs to make some public service announcement in Spanish if he’s actually sorry

  • irishtxn, 2012-10-02 11:05:44

    I think he’s hiding the possible fact that he’s gay himself! Nothing worse than a closeted gay person!

  • , 2012-10-11 08:49:54

    I don’t think he should have to make a public service announcement just to prove to you he is sorry! The guy donated some eighty thousand dolors to the organization... And even if he wasn’t sincerely sorry that is his business, not yours nor mine. On the fact of the matter that he could be a closeted homosexual, that is blasphemy that you would say what you have said. If he was gay and wanted the world to know, then by god the world would know. You don’t know everyone’s situation or how coming out could affect their lives. In the Hispanic culture it is considered dishonorable to be gay. You are so close minded, that you have lost touch of what is truly important here. This incredible man has helped a charity that advocates sports in the lgbtq community, and that is a big step in today’s world!

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