Detroit Tigers game analyst Jack Morris has been suspended indefinitely by Bally Sports Detroit following his apology for using a mock Asian accent when broadcasting about Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani during a match Tuesday night.
What happened: Morris, a former Tigers pitcher inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018, was asked to comment about Ohtani during the game’s sixth inning. At the time, Tigers pitcher Joe Jimenez had just struck out Juan Lagares and Ohtani was coming up to bat.
- “Now, what do you do with Shohei Ohtani?” Bally Sports Detroit play-by-play announcer Matt Shepard asked. To this, Morris replied, “Be very, very careful.”
- This response, however, came with a mock Asian accent. Viewers quickly criticized his actions on social media. “As an Asian American… F Jack Morris,” one Twitter user wrote.
Live apology: Morris issued an on-air apology before the ninth inning, when Ohtani was coming up to bat again. He stressed having “the utmost respect” for the Angels superstar.
- “It’s been brought to my attention, and I sincerely apologize if I offended anybody, especially anybody in the Asian community, for what I said about pitching and being careful to Shohei Ohtani. I did not intend for any offensive thing and I apologize if I did,” the 66-year-old said in part.
- Ohtani, 27, is a native of Japan and does not use English as a primary language. Just last month, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith also had to apologize after saying that Ohtani is “harming” baseball because he doesn’t speak English.
- Morris’ apology fell flat to some members of the community. On Wednesday morning, the Asian American Journalists Association Sports Task Force described his apology as “insensitive and ignorant,” because it only referenced “the words he chose, but not the stereotypical, racist accent he used.”
After the apology, Bally Sports Detroit suspended Morris due to his comment. The network stated that it was “extremely disappointed,” according to ESPN
- The statement released on Wednesday continued to say: “We have zero tolerance policy for bias or discrimination and deeply apologize for his insensitive remark.”
- The Tigers baseball team also stated that they were disappointed in Morris and supported Bally Sports Detroit’s decision. “We fully support Bally Sports Detroit’s decision and their on-going commitment to ensure that all personnel are held to the highest standards 0f personal conduct.”
This is not the first time Morris has made problematic remarks. In 1990, he reportedly made a sexist comment to Detroit Free Press intern Jennifer Frey, saying “I don’t talk to people when I’m naked, especially women, unless they’re on top of me or I’m on top of them.”