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June 30, 2022 1:36 pm

Jewish Ex-MLB Outfielder Recalls Facing Antisemitism, Fan Giving Nazi Salute

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Former New York Mets outfielder Shawn Green. Photo: Wknight94 via Wikimedia Commons.

Former professional baseball player Shawn Green revealed in an interview that he faced antisemitism from teammates and fans several times while playing in the minor leagues.

Green, who retired in 2008, played in the major leagues for the Toronto Blue Jays, Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Mets during his 15-year Major League Baseball (MLB) career. During a Q&A with the Los Angeles Times for the publication’s “Dodgers Dugout” column, Green said that when he was in the minors, he experienced antisemitism “a couple times,” notably from teammates who made antisemitic comments without knowing he was Jewish.

“One teammate, who I got along with well was just kind of egging me on with some derogatory comments,” he told the outlet. Green then opened up about an encounter with an antisemitic fan.

“One time a guy looked at me and gave the ‘Heil Hitler’ salute. That was pretty disturbing,” he shared. “I just get more upset that some people kind of have that much anger that they feel like they need to get it out. It just didn’t make any sense to me. So yeah, not many times, but there’s certain ones that strike a nerve, and that one definitely did.”

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Green also noted that his Jewish fans show him lots of “support and love,” adding that in “every city I went to I had Jewish fans that would come to me and say things in Hebrew or Yiddish.”

The former MLB outfielder has previously expressed pride in his Jewish heritage, once sitting out a Dodgers game because it fell on the Yom Kippur holiday. In May, he participated in a virtual White House event to commemorate Jewish American Heritage Month, where he spoke about traveling with his former MLB teams and seeing a “small little fan base in every city of Jewish kids.”

During the online event he also recalled one game in the majors when he saw a fan of the opposing San Francisco Giants perform a Nazi salute from the bleachers. He said at the time, “You kind of just feel sad — not as much angry as just sad — that people have that type of hatred, anger, frustration, and they have no outlet for it.”

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