The NAACP and civil rights leaders are calling for a boycott of the San Francisco Giants.
It comes after the team's principal owner contributed to the campaign of Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith. She's the senator who is accused of racially insensitive remarks.
Charles Johnson, the man who owns more of the Giants team than anyone else, is a Florida billionaire with a long history of supporting Republican candidates and causes. But when he and his wife sent $5,400 to Hyde-Smith, it was nine days after she made controversial comment that she later described as a joke.
Hyde-Smith said her comments were taken out of context. But the uproar caused some big companies like Wal-mart, Pfizer and AT&T to ask that their contributions be returned.
But Johnson, who owns 26 percent of the Giants, has not.
"It was more than I could take and I decided on my own one person that never again would I support the Giants," Civil Rights Attorney John Burris said. "I would not buy a ticket. I would not encourage any of my friends to buy tickets."
On Monday, Burris joined with the Bay Area chapter of the NAACP in calling for a boycott of the team, while Johnson's attorney told reporters it was just a misunderstanding.
"He's never met her. He doesn't know her," said Joe Cotchett, Johnson's attorney. "He was asked to write a check as a republican.
Cotchett said his client likely didn't know about the controversy before he wrote the check. Cotchett said he will call Johnson at his home in Palm Beach and ask him to demand that his check be returned.
Giants President and CEO Larry Baer issued the following statement on Monday:
In no way does the Giants organization condone any racist and hateful language and behavior by anyone. It is abhorrent and in direct conflict with the core values of the San Francisco Giants.
We take seriously the platform we have to make an impact on our community, and for decades we have used it to advocate for social justice and equality, inclusiveness and tolerance in our communities. We were the first team in professional sports to raise money and awareness for a cure for AIDS (Until There’s A Cure Day), the first team to devote a day to preventing domestic and family violence (Strike Out Violence Day), and the first team to speak out against bullying, in particular of LGBTQ youth (It Gets Better). We were proud to support the renovation of the Willie Mays Boys & Girls Club at Hunter's Point and each year our Junior Giants program provides free baseball instruction and life skills coaching to more than 25,000 low-income children throughout Northern California. We in the sports world have an ongoing responsibility to step beyond the comfort zone of our ballparks, stadiums and arenas to address injustice and suffering in our communities and the Giants will continue to make that a priority.
The Giants have more than 30 owners. Just like our fans, they come from different backgrounds and have their own political views. Many give to Democratic causes, many to Republican causes and some refrain from politics altogether. Neither I nor anyone else at the Giants can control who any of our owners support politically, just as we cannot and should not control whom any of our employees support politically. While our 30-plus owners span the political spectrum, they share one core belief: that sports has the power to inspire and galvanize a community. In 1992, when the Giants were about to be sold to a group in Tampa, these individuals recognized the importance of the Giants to the community, and they saved the team for the Bay Area. They helped turn the Giants into one of the most socially-minded and successful organizations both on and off the field. That vision has never faltered. We remain steadfast in our mission to serve our fans and the community.