New York Yankees infielder Josh Donaldson formally apologized for his controversial remarks towards Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson that involved a reference to Jackie Robinson, which Donaldson deemed a joke, but nobody else in the MLB community found funny.

Donaldson, who received a one game suspension and an undisclosed fine from Major League Baseball that remains under appeal, also apologized to the Robinson family.

“I would also like to apologize to Mrs. Rachel Robinson and the Jackie Robinson family for any distress this incident may have caused. Jackie was a true American hero and I hold his name in the highest regard,” in his statement.

Donaldson appears to have recognized the insensitivity of his trash talk as a poor attempt at humor.  The Yankees third baseman also wrote that he and Anderson now have a “mutual understanding” about the context of his using Robinson while mocking him during on-field chatter that is routine among players, but apparently crossed the line, leading to a benches-clearing melee’ on May 21 at Yankee Stadium.

“First and foremost, I have the utmost respect for what Tim Anderson brings to the game of baseball,” Donaldson wrote. “I stated over the weekend that I apologized for offending Tim and that it was a misunderstanding based on multiple exchanges between us over the years. My view of that exchange hasn’t changed and I absolutely meant no disrespect. In the past, it had never been an issue and now that it is, we have a mutual understanding.”

In a 2019 Sports Illustrated article, Anderson referred to himself as the Jackie Robinson of this generation of Black American baseball players and stated that many of the things Robinson endured, Anderson and other Black ballplayers are still facing today.  He also said that he was trying to bring fun back to the game. 

Anderson has proven to have the last laugh in big moments in nationally televised games against the Yankees.  His walk-off homerun in last season’s Field of Dreams game was the difference last July.  Last Sunday his three-run home run in the Bronx capped the doubleheader sweep as Yankee fans showered him with a chorus of “Jackie, Jackie, Jackie” as he rounded the bases.

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