San Francisco Giants first-base coach Antoan Richardson was tossed from Tuesday night's 13-2 win over the San Diego Padres, which allowed Alyssa Nakken to make history as the first woman to coach on-field during a regular season game.
But after the game, Richardson, who is Black, took the unusual step of talking to reporters so he could speak his mind about what he felt was an unfair ejection caused by comments from an opposing coach — Padres third-base coach Mike Shildt — that "reeked undertones of racism."
According to Richardson, the incident began when Shildt, who is white, began looking into the Giants dugout in the third inning. Richardson noticed and said, "Can I help you? Are you looking for somebody?" Shildt said he was looking for Giants pitcher Alex Wood, and then Giants manager Gabe Kapler came over to "diffuse the situation."
Wood was located and Shildt — who was the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals last season — began walking away. But he had parting words, and Richardson believes that what Shildt yelled as he left were instructions for Kapler.
"He yelled, 'You need to control that motherf***er,'" Richardson said via Giants beat writer Evan Webeck. "At that point in time I went up to the top step and I said, 'Excuse me?' I couldn't believe what I heard. At that point in time, [Greg] Gibson, the crew chief, decided to toss me from the game. I think that his words were disproportionately unwarranted and [had] undertones of racism when he referred to me as 'that motherf***er' as if I am to be controlled or a piece of property or enslaved. I think it's just really important that we understand what happened tonight.
"The second part that's equally disappointing is that me being tossed by that umpire empowered this coach to continue to have conversations like that with people like me, and that's really unfortunate that that's what happened tonight."
Richardson also complimented Nakken for the job she did while coaching first base in his stead.
"With that being said, I'm really excited that Alyssa [Nakken] got her opportunity to make her Major League debut and I'm very proud of her," Richardson said via NBC Sports Bay Area. "I think she did a really wonderful job and we got a win, so that's the most important thing."
Richardson was told he was ejected for "instigating," even though Richardson says he didn't use any profanity.
"The umpire said to me that I was instigating," Richardson said via ESPN. "At that point in time, I asked: 'This person called me a motherf***er and I'm being an instigator?'"
Kapler supports his coach
Kapler, who was only briefly involved in the exchange between Richardson and Shildt, said after the game that he not just fully supports his coach, he trusts his account of what happened.
"I trust Antoan's judgment 100 percent," Kapler said. "I trust Antoan's judgment on the matter and I know that Antoan was not out of control at all and that anything that was said to insinuate that he was is totally inappropriate. He didn't instigate any part of this."
Richardson sharing his story to promote awareness
Ejections are common in MLB, but coach ejections are definitely rarer. Despite that, we don't always get the full story behind those coach ejections. Richardson said he felt compelled to share what happened to help people understand that how they speak to someone, even for a moment, matters a great deal.
"It's important that we bring awareness to this," Richardson said. "Unfortunately, this is what exists in our world, and I think it's important that we understand when we do make comments and we do take actions like this, what that means for communities.
"I share this story not just for myself, but I share this story for other people that look like me. I know I've had the full support of my teammates and others that I would be letting them down if I did not share this story tonight."
Richardson and Shildt clear the air
Before Wednesday afternoon's game, Richardson and Shildt were able to have a conversation and clear the air between them. They both met with the media shortly after, and Richardson was able to reveal the details of their conversation and further explain why he shared his story last night. He emphasized that he knows Shildt isn't a racist, but told him that words can have a negative effect on people and communities even if there's no "ill intent" behind them.