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Boston Red Sox Fan Reports A Racial Slur, And A Lifetime Ban Results

At the same baseball game that saw Boston Red Sox fans make amends with a player targeted by racial slurs at Fenway Park, one fan reportedly used a slur to comment on a singer — and that fan has now been banned from the stadium.

"Yes, it was a racial comment," Red Sox club President Sam Kennedy said, according to the team. "It was a racial comment used to describe the national anthem that was taking place, the performance of the national anthem. It was sickening to hear."

The fan was ejected and told not to come back to Fenway after he used a slur in speaking to another fan about the Kenyan woman who had just sung the anthem before Tuesday's game.

Both of the men who were speaking are white. But the man to whom the remark was addressed is Calvin Hennick, the father of a 6-year-old, mixed-race son who was sitting with him in the stands.

"Took my son to his first baseball game tonight," Hennick wrote on Twitter, adding that he had "spent the day mentally defending my city" after Monday night's game in which Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones was subjected to racial taunts and a bag of peanuts was thrown at him.

Describing the encounter with a man he described as a "middle-aged white fan," Hennick said the fan had criticized the woman who sang the anthem by saying, "It was too long, and she n******* it up."

"I thought that surely I'd misheard him," Hennick wrote, saying he asked the man to repeat himself.

"Just to be clear," Hennick said he then responded to the man, repeating his words back to him once again.

"That's right," the man replied, according to Hennick. "And I stand by it."

Hennick said he "immediately found an usher and told him what transpired."

"To the Sox's credit, they took the incident seriously," Hennick wrote, adding that when he was brought to identify the fan, the man denied using the slur. Hennick, his son and his father-in-law were given better seats, and the man was eventually kicked out.

While he initially thought the other fan had spoken in the belief that they shared the same views on race, Hennick tells The Associated Press, "The more I think about it, the more I think it was a deliberate thumb in the eye."

The ousted fan hasn't been publicly identified; the Red Sox say the Boston police were also involved in the case.

"When we see this sort of thing, we must fight back," Hennick wrote on Twitter. "Our opponent lacks a spine. There is no way for us not to win."

Hennick has spoken out about racism before — most notably in 2014, when the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., prompted him to write an essay for Ebony titled, I Hope My Son Stays White, in which he admitted to fears about how his son is perceived.

The Red Soxes' Kennedy said he couldn't recall another incident in which a fan was permanently banned from Fenway Park. He thanked Hennick for reporting the issue and said he was proud of how the park's staff had reacted.

The interaction came on the same night Red Sox fans had been urged to show they welcome all races, after Monday's ugly incident that targeted Adam Jones. And thousands of Boston fans did that, giving a loud and hearty round of applause for the Baltimore player.

As NPR reported, "At Tuesday's game, many fans applauded and stood up as Jones went to bat in the first inning. Boston pitcher Chris Sale stepped off the mound to let Jones relish the moment and some Red Sox players also applauded."

After Monday's game, the Red Sox issued a statement reading, "The Red Sox have zero tolerance for such inexcusable behavior, and our entire organization and our fans are sickened by the conduct of an ignorant few."

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.