What to make of Jerry Remy’s controversial comments on translators and mound visits in Major League Baseball

Many Yankee fans that are not avid Twitter users and who did not tune into the Red Sox broadcast over on NESN on Monday night may have missed the controversial comment that Red Sox analyst Jerry Remy made during a mound visit between Masahiro Tanaka and pitching coach, Larry Rothschild. Tanaka continued his recent struggles and after allowing a Red Sox team that isn’t known for their power stroke to take him deep twice in one inning, Rothschild was prompted to talk with his shaky pitcher and tried to calm him down.
Photo Credit: NY Daily News

Accompanying him to the mound was Tanaka’s translator, Shingo Horie, who informed Tanaka of what Rothschild had to say and communicated back with Rothschild. Red Sox play-by-play announcer Dave O’Brien commented that it was a very fast mound visit, and it did not do much at all to slow down the pace of the game. If a viewer was tuned into Michael Kay on WPIX or Bob Costas on MLB Network, the game went on as normal, and the inning continued. However, for everyone tuned into NESN, they received some “wisdom” from long-time broadcaster Jerry Remy.

Remy said on national television that he thought having a translator be a part of a mound visit should be “illegal.” A seemingly shocked O’Brien commented back “Seriously?” Remy was asked in the following at-bat why he thought that way. He hesitated for a few seconds, and then came up with the answer, “learn baseball language.” He called it a “simple” process and there was a long awkward pause. O’Brien concluded the conversation by saying that it is reasonable to have the translator to prevent “nuances” between a coach and player.
The Boston Red Sox Hall of Famer did an adequate job of not only making an ignorant comment about players from different countries, but also doing it only weeks after Adam Jones claimed Boston was one of the most racist cities he has ever experienced as a visiting player.

The biggest problem with Remy’s comment is that he did mention anything about how having a translator could affect the game itself. Such examples include: pace of play issues due to having to relay conversations multiple times, the possibility of a translator falsely relaying information, and the fact that extra personnel is needed on the field. He targeted the players and said they were at fault for not knowing “baseball language.” This comment is not only arrogant, but depicts how absent from reality Remy is. 

Remy played baseball in the 70’s and 80’s, when Major League Baseball was still a sport dominated by American born players. Anyone that is a fan of the game now knows that other countries are being represented in American professional baseball more so than ever in the history of the game. Some of these players come to the Major Leagues without ever needing to speak English or even not ever visiting an English-speaking country extensively, in their lives. This is why teams hire translators to help make the transition smoother and keep communication intact between people of different backgrounds. Does Remy really think Eric Thames instantly learned Korean, when he signed to play overseas years ago. There is no chance. Not to mention the Red Sox have had numerous Major League players, with many years of experience, utilize translators.
Boston Globe
Mound visits are not always simply “baseball language” either. Anyone that has ever played the game of baseball knows that mound visits can include a coach jokingly relaxing a pitcher by asking them what they are having for dinner, informing the pitcher of in depth scouting reports, or asking a series of questions to get an idea of the pitcher’s mental and physical state. Imagine hearing all those things in your non-native language that you have little to no experience with. That seems like an extremely productive mound visit!

Remy’s inability to back up his comments with facts and rationale other than a few random phrases illustrates further how arrogant and arguably discriminatory his comment was to Tanaka, other foreign-born players, and coaches that utilize a translator. In Remy’s defense, a player should definitely learn English as they are employed in an English-speaking country, but that doesn’t excuse him from calling for a ban on something that is simply used to prevent discrepancies and miscommunication.

This ironically happened on the same day that Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt said Obudel Herrera could not be the club house leader for the Phillies, because his primary language is Spanish. Expect either an apology from Remy or an attempt to “rephrase” what he said in the broadcast in the coming days. In all likelihood, Remy is not a racist human being, but his comments were poorly worded, uncalled for, and baseball fans on social media have not hesitated to let him know.   

Article by: Ryan Thoms


  1. I am sure it was part of Yankee-hatred that caused him to say that at the time. I don't think he has any problem when the Dead Sox has a translator for their pitchers like when they had Uehara or Tazawa.

  2. from tina in Hopkinton, Ma.
    I agree with the REM DOG. We pay millions of $$$ for these players, so why can't they learn
    a little bit of the language. Give me a break...
    Stop the Whining. They are probably laughing in their saki.


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