Every white Red Sox player to attend Trump meeting despite boycott by ethnic minority team-mates

'Unfortunately we are still struggling, still fighting,' Puerto Rican team leader says

Abby Young-Powell
Thursday 09 May 2019 16:29 BST
The Boston Red Sox celebrating a win
The Boston Red Sox celebrating a win (Getty Images)

The manager of the Boston Red Sox and some of the team's black and ethnic minority players say they will boycott a White House meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday.

For decades it has been traditional for American championship teams to visit the White House to meet the President, but this year only white players will attend.

Alex Cora, the Boston baseball team’s manager, is refusing to go, saying he is frustrated at the Trump administration’s failure to help his native Puerto Rico recover from deadly Hurricane Maria.

Nearly a dozen players have also said they are boycotting the meeting, but have not given reasons.

“Unfortunately, we are still struggling, still fighting,” Cora said in a statement. “Some people still lack basic necessities, others remain without electricity and many homes and schools are in pretty bad shape almost a year and a half after Hurricane Maria struck.”

Nearly 3,000 people are estimated to have been killed when the hurricane devastated Dominica, the US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico in September 2017 and it is regarded as the worst natural disaster on record in the area.

Earlier this year the US President told Republican lawmakers that Puerto Rico had been given too much rebuilding money compared with mainland states like Florida and Texas, which have also been hit by severe storms in recent years.

At a rally in May, President Trump pledged more money for relief efforts for Florida, but told Puerto Ricans they should be “grateful” for what they have already been given.

This week Cora wants to snub the White House in order to raise awareness. “I’ve used my voice on many occasions so that Puerto Ricans are not forgotten, and my absence is no different. As such, at this moment, I don’t feel comfortable celebrating in the White House,” he said.

The team’s white players have so far said they are not going to support their teammates in the boycott, leading David Price, an African American who says he will not attend, to reweet sports journalist Steve Buckley noting that “basically, it’s the white Sox who’ll be going.”

“Politically, it didn’t matter who was in the White House. If I have an opportunity to go to the White House and meet the president, I’m going to go,” relief pitcher Heath Hembree said on Wednesday.

A championship team’s coach rarely, if ever, misses the White House visit, a tradition that began in in the 1920s.

Having won the annual baseball World Series league titles in 2004, 2007 and 2013, the Red Sox have been honoured at the White House under both Republican and Democratic presidents.

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