The Boston Red Sox cancelled plans to give out promotional bobbleheads at Fenway Park on August 9, just hours before a game against the New York Yankees, after they were deemed racially offensive. The bobbleheads, depicting Red Sox star David Ortiz who will retire after the current season, were pulled by team management shortly before the gates opened.
“I thought the bobbleheads were an inaccurate portrayal of David,” said Red Sox president Sam Kennedy to ESPN. “To go further, I thought the facial features were racially insensitive.”
The items, which were scheduled to be handed out to the first 15,000 fans attending the game, depict David Ortiz delivering his famous impassioned speech at Fenway Park before the team’s first home game after the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013. “That’s supposed to be me?” Ortiz told the Boston Globe after the bobbleheads were unveiled.
Top 40 distributor BDA Inc. (asi/137616), which provided the bobbleheads, released this statement following the cancelation of yesterday’s giveaway: “We value our decades-long relationship with the Red Sox organization and its decision to postpone Tuesday’s David Ortiz bobblehead giveaway. We’re currently working closely with the Red Sox to ensure the team and its fans receive a quality product.” A spokesperson added that the distributor firm agreed with the decision to cancel the evening’s giveaway.
The Boston Globe reports that two versions of the bobblehead were made, and team management found both to be unacceptable. “If I was feeling this way, certainly other people would,” Kennedy told the Globe. “So we pulled the plug.”
On Tuesday, all Fenway Park attendees with valid tickets to the evening’s game received a card with instructions on receiving a redesigned replacement bobblehead in the mail.
In a similar situation in early February, the Sacramento Kings were compelled to scrap a giveaway of promotional shirts shortly before a game against the Milwaukee Bucks, after several Kings players voiced concern over the garments’ depiction of a monkey to celebrate the Lunar New Year and the Chinese Year of the Monkey.