Detroit Tigers broadcaster and MLB Hall of Fame pitcher Jack Morris has been suspended indefinitely for racist comments he made about Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani during Tuesday's game.
When asked by play-by-play announcer Matt Shepard how the Tigers should pitch to Ohtani in the sixth inning, Morris adopted an exaggerated East Asian accent while saying “be very, very careful.” When Ohtani came back up in the ninth, Morris issued a lengthy apology.
“It’s been brought to my attention and I sincerely apologize if I offended anybody, especially in the Asian community, for what I said about pitching and being careful to Shohei Ohtani,” Morris began, before going on to talk about his respect for Ohtani's talent.
Bally Sports Detroit announced the suspension Wednesday.
“Bally Sports Detroit is extremely disappointed with the remarks analyst Jack Morris made during last night’s Tigers game,” the network said in a statement. “Jack has been suspended indefinitely from Tigers broadcasts and 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.”
The Tigers, who retired Morris' number after he was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, issued a similar statement.
“The Detroit Tigers take immense pride in honoring the diverse cultures that make up our players, coaching staff, front office, fan base and community,” the team said. “We are 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.”
The Angels' star pitcher and hitter, when asked in a press conference about the incident, confirmed that he had seen the broadcast clip.
"Personally, I'm not offended and I didn't take anything personally," he said in a press conference, through a translator.
"He is a Hall of Famer," Ohtani added. "He has a big influence in the baseball world so it's kind of a tough spot."
The incident comes 31 years after Morris, during his playing days, told a young female reporter that he “only talks to women when I'm naked if they are on top of me or I'm on top of them.” Morris, who was not naked at the time, was defended by then-team president Bo Schembechler, who blamed the Detroit Free Press for sending a female reporter into the clubhouse.