CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Cubs vowed Wednesday to indefinitely ban the fan who used what appeared to be a racist hand gesture behind an African American television reporter who was on the air.
"The individual responsible will not be welcome back at Wrigley Field," Cubs spokesman Julian Green said.
The Cubs were still working to identify the fan following the incident Tuesday while the Cubs were facing the Miami Marlins. Green said the team had figured out the fan's seat location but he was not the season ticket holder and when security responded, the fan was no longer there.
Doug Glanville of NBC Sports Chicago, a former major league outfielder who played three seasons for the Cubs, was standing beside a dugout discussing the Cubs' surging offense when the bearded fan seated in the background started gesturing.
Wearing a gray Cubs sweatshirt and blue pants, he made an upside-down "OK" sign near Glanville's head during the broadcast. The gesture associated with the juvenile "circle game," where someone tries to trick a friend a friend or sibling into looking at it and then punch their opponent in the shoulder. But it has also become a white supremacy sign.
"It doesn't matter either way," Green said. "This was bad judgment on the part of the individual. Whether sophomoric behavior or some other stunt, to use that in connection with a respected journalist, who happens to be African American, and doing his job to deliver enjoyment to our fans is ignorant. It has no place @ Wrigley Field."
Glanville said in a statement he was made aware of what the fan did after the segment. He praised the Cubs and NBC Sports for their "responsiveness."
"They have reached out to me and are supportive of my role in the broadcast and continue to have a desire to uphold an inclusive environment at Wrigley Field," he said. "They have displayed sensitivity as to how the implications of this would affect me as a person of color. I am supporting their efforts in fully investigating the matter and I will comment further once the investigation has run its course."
NBC Sports Chicago senior vice president and general manager Kevin Cross called the fan's behavior "reprehensible."
"We are disappointed by the incident that took place on our air last evening, one that was at the expense of our colleague Doug Glanville," Cross said. "
Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney earlier said "such ignorant and repulsive behavior is not tolerated" and "any individual behaving in this manner will not only be removed from the ballpark, but will be permanently banned from Wrigley Field."
The incident with Glanville comes after Major League Baseball launched an investigation last month into racist messages sent to Cubs reliever Carl Edwards Jr. on Instagram. Those messages came from several people, agent Lee Long said at the time. Edwards got off to a rough start and was sent to Triple-A Iowa a month ago before getting recalled Monday.
The Cubs also distanced themselves from team patriarch Joe Ricketts in February, after emails that included Islamophobic comments as well as conspiracies about former President Barack Obama's birthplace and education.
The Cubs certainly are not the only team that has had to deal with racial incidents. The Boston Red Sox banned a fan who issued a racial slur to another fan about the performance of the national anthem as it was being sung by a woman from Kenya. That incident happened just days after Baltimore's Adam Jones was subjected to racial taunts at Fenway Park.
Major League Baseball issued a statement Wednesday noting it has a policy that bans derogatory language and actions at its ballparks and requires clubs to have a response plans.
"Our inclusion efforts, policies and bullying prevention programming aim to make our sport and its ballparks welcome to all, and we will do everything possible to accomplish that goal," MLB said.
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