Sports

Harassed Texas Rangers fans offered tickets by club and front-row seats by a fan

Jessica Romero

The family that says it was racially harassed at a Texas Rangers game has been offered tickets to another game, according to club officials.

Also, a season-ticket holder has offered the family his four, front-row seats behind the visitor’s dugout for the Sept. 10 game against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Jessica Romero, husband Ramon Romero and their son Nomar, 6, were sitting in the upper deck when Jessica Romero overheard a man sitting in the row behind them make racist comments about Hispanics, she said.

She posted an image on Facebook of the man making an obscene hand gesture in the background of a family photo that Ramon Romero took when they sat down.

She recounted some of the disparaging comments she claims he made on her Facebook post, her first post on the social media site since April.

Jessica Romero’s Facebook post about the incident has been shared 80,000 times and drawn 6,000 comments and 140,000 responses since she posted it late Saturday night.

“It gives me so much feeling of support,” Jessica Romero told the Star-Telegram. “I’ve gotten messages from Washington DC, Ohio, Louisiana, California, all over. I’ve tried to respond but there are so many. It’s kind of amazing to me how kind people are and the words they’re sending.”

But first came the ugliness.

At first, Jessica Romero said she heard the man sitting behind her family tell his female companion that he planned to photo-bomb the Romero’s family picture.

“I didn’t even know they were talking about us,” Jessica Romero said. “She said, ‘Yeah, we should make a photo album of how many pictures we’ve [messed] up.’ Then I went to look at the picture and knew they were talking about us.”

She turned and looked at the man.

“And he just looked at me. He didn’t say anything,” Jessica Romero said. “And he never said anything when my husband was sitting in the seat next to us.”

After a boy sitting behind the man accidentally kicked the back of his seat during the second inning, Jessica Romero said, the man began to “complain about all the illegal immigrants that were surrounding him at the game,” she said. “He said he ‘should kick little Speedy Gonzalez all the way back to Mexico for kicking his seat.’”

“Trump needs to hurry and build the wall and send all these illegals back so they won’t be kicking his seat,” the man said, according to Jessica Romero.

The Rangers released a statement condemning the behavior.

“The Rangers are committed to providing all of our guests with a safe and enjoyable experience and we are truly sorry that this family was subjected to this offensive behavior at Saturday’s game,” the statement reads. “There is no place at Globe Life Park in Arlington for this type of conduct to occur.”

The Rangers pledged to “make their next trip to Globe Life Park a memorable and enjoyable experience.”

The Rangers are offering the Romero family tickets to any game left on the schedule. They’ll be the special guests of Globe Life Park public address announcer Chuck Morgan.

Ron Chapman Jr., who is a Dallas lawyer specializing in labor and employment issues, is offering the Romero’s tickets he shares with friends.

“I want the family to know and feel that the vast, vast majority of people don’t think that way,” Chapman said. “I want them to feel 100 percent welcomed by their community and the Rangers’ community.”

Chapman said, for him, merely denouncing racism from afar just seems too small, too insufficient.

“I wanted to affirmatively do something and take some form of action,” he said. “I didn’t want to just read the story and think, ‘Ah, that’s terrible, I can’t believe someone did that.’”

Word of the incident spread to the Rangers’ clubhouse in Cleveland, where rain was threatening to delay or postpone their game Tuesday. Shortstop Elvis Andrus and center fielder Delino DeShields spoke strong against the man who offended the Romero family.

“It’s 2019, man,” said Andrus, a Venezuela native who last month became a naturalized U.S. citizen. “I don’t understand why people nowadays are still thinking about that. Your race or your color, what’s the difference? We’re all human beings in the end.”

DeShields, who is African American, said that he has dealt with racist comments coming from fans at various ballparks toward him, but said that what the Romero family experienced falls into a different category.

“That’s definitely not OK, especially when this is supposed to be the greatest country in the world,” DeShields said. “I feel like everyone should be treated equally, especially at a sporting event when people want to come to enjoy a baseball game or a football game or whatever it is.

“That’s just people being ignorant and disrespectful, and that’s not OK.”

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Stefan Stevenson has been covering sports for the Star-Telegram since 1997. He spent five years covering TCU athletics, which included two BCS bowls, two trips to the college World Series and the move to the Big 12. He has covered the Texas Rangers since 2014 and started reporting on the Dallas Cowboys in 2016.
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