Crawford's thoughts on race and baseball

July, 6, 2012
7/06/12
2:59
PM ET
On Thursday, Red Sox left fielder Carl Crawford said a fan uttered a racial slur at him during his rehab start in Manchester, N.H. In light of this incident, we’re running the following excerpt from a Q-and-A between Crawford and ESPNBoston.com’s Louise Cornetta on race. The conversation took place during the 2011 season:

Q. What kind of environment did you grow up in?

Crawford: "I grew up in a lower class environment in Houston called the Fifth Ward. Just one of your poor neighborhoods in Houston, Texas, that was pretty much blacks and Hispanics.”

Q. When did you first encounter racism growing up?

Crawford: "I didn't really encounter racism growing up. To be honest with you, I never was really around white people before. It wasn't until I got into baseball that I was really around a lot of white people."

Q. Did you have many African-American teammates in the minors and how were you treated?

Crawford: "I had a few. Not that many, but a couple. I was treated the same as everybody else. I had Josh Hamilton on my team. So he took most of the heckling. I don’t think I ever did really encounter racism, no, not really. For one, I always went straight home after games. I never went out in the minor leagues. I was so young. I don't think the fans really knew who I was because I wasn't a first-round pick. It wasn't like I was getting all the publicity and stuff. So they didn’t really know who I was."

Q. Have you encountered racism at the major league level?

Crawford: "A few stadiums when you go ... there's a few times when you have games and there is not a lot of people there and you can hear everything that they're saying and the team is losing and they're drinking and then the real (them) comes out. I've pretty much heard it all but you figure a security guard or somebody would say something, but most of the time they're standing right there letting them.

"That's what gets me upset the most because you have people (security guards) that are being paid to do their job to stop stuff like that and they just stand there and let them do it. I get more upset about that than actually what the people are saying."

Q. How much do people mistake you for a football or basketball player? Does that bother you?

Crawford: "Shoot, all the time. When I get on a plane, everybody ... I'm either a football player, a basketball player or a rapper. It doesn’t bother me. I don't care."

Q. As someone whom African-American young men look up to, what do you want people to think of you?

Crawford: "Color and race shouldn't even be an issue. I mean, just think of me like I'm a well-respected man who is trying to play baseball every day. I really don't even get into all that stuff, my whole thing is just to play baseball every day."

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