Jeremiah Chapman was simply playing a game he loves when he faced racist taunts from fans.
Chapman, a 17-year-old baseball player at Charles City High School, was playing a doubleheader at Waverly-Shell Rock High School on June 27. Chapman spoke with the Des Moines Register and The Gazette about the racial abuse he faced from opposing fans during that game.
According to him, the taunts started off simple. One fan yelled “you’re garbage” at him early on. Then he says they called him “Colin,” which he believes is a reference to Colin Kaepernick. Then the taunts got progressively worse.
“Then, after I caught a ball, they said, ‘You need to go back to the fields to do your job,'” he told The Gazette. “They looked at me and said, ‘You should have been George Floyd.’ Then they started chanting ‘Trump 2020.'”
Speaking to the Register, Chapman said of the Floyd comment, “That really hurt, because why would you say that? You’re basically saying you wish I was dead.”
Chapman says he told the umpire about the comments, who asked him if he wanted to stop the game. Chapman decided not to stop playing. He also did his best to not react and let the comments affect him because, “I didn’t want to seem like a punk.”
Charles City Superintendent Mike Fisher said the story has been “corroborated” following an investigation into the claims. The Charles City Community School District released a statement supporting Chapman. The Waverly-Shell Rock Community School District released a statement on Facebook condemning the fans who participated in the racist taunts.
Waverly-Shell Rock schools fully acknowledge that there was an incident at a recent baseball game that had one of our fans make extremely inappropriate, bigoted comments towards a Charles City player.
This behavior is unacceptable. We make no excuses, because there are none. We do, however, wish to make a sincere apology to the Charles City school district and community and, in particular, the young man towards whom these comments were directed.
We can’t undo what’s been done. But we are using this as a learning experience for the responsible party and, we hope, for many others in our schools and communities.
Wanted to make sure Jeremiah Chapman knew that Sailor Nation walks with him. Best of luck on the rest of your season Jeremiah! pic.twitter.com/nmjJcNNU4n
— Sailor Baseball (@chssailorbb) July 4, 2020
On his way home from the game, Chapman said he didn’t know if he wanted to continue playing baseball, he told the Register.
“At the time, I just didn’t because I just didn’t know why that stuff was said,” Chapman said. “I’m a nice kid. I’m not a troublemaker. I keep my grades up. … I don’t do anything wrong. So that’s what made me really hurt about it. I’m a 17-year-old kid just trying to play baseball.”