Hall of Fame pitcher Jack Morris returned to the Bally Sports Detroit telecast booth Friday at Comerica Park, following a 23-day, 10-assignment suspension for his remark toward Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani.
When play-by-play announcer Matt Shepard asked how the Detroit Tigers should approach Ohtani in his upcoming at-bat in the sixth inning Aug. 17 at Comerica Park, Morris replied, “Be very, very careful.” The 66-year-old used an accent that has been used to mock that of English-speaking Asians. The next day, he was suspended from his job.
Morris, the Tigers’ color analyst, issued an on-air apology before Friday’s game.
“To our viewing audience: Since I’ve been away from broadcasting games, I have focused on listening, learning and a lot of self reflection. I have appreciated the opportunity to work with a bias training group. My words are important, and I would like to read my statement to all of you.
“I again would like to sincerely apologize for my insensitive comment that I made in my last broadcast. I am very sorry that my comment offended so many people, especially the Asian community. I never intended for it to be hurtful or offensive to anyone. I understand that it was perceived that way by many, and I’m truly, truly sorry. I have a better understanding of the profound way bias impacts not just those in sports but people across all areas of society. I want to be a positive influence in our diverse community. We all can and should be more sensitive and thoughtful about how and what we say, and how it might be perceived by others.
“I have the utmost respect for Shohei Ohtani and what he is doing for the game of baseball. He is a class act and one of the best players in today’s game. It’s exciting to watch him perform, and I’m one of his biggest fans. I love the diversity in baseball in that it brings so many countries and cultures together in an inclusive way, in a game that I have loved my entire life. I am determined to be an advocate to educate athletes and people about how to be inclusive and encourage diversity.
“I am thrilled to be back broadcasting and working with Matt and all the gang here at Bally Sports and look forward to seeing what the Tigers will do tonight and into the future. I appreciate the time. Thank you.”
Morris has worked as a TV analyst since 2013 and has covered the Tigers since 2015. He pitched 18 MLB seasons from 1977-94, winning three World Series championships and earning five All-Star Game bids. Morris was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2018.
Of his 18 seasons, Morris played 14 of them for the Tigers. He helped Detroit win the 1984 World Series. He also won the 1991 World Series with the Minnesota Twins and 1992 World Series with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.