Oakland Athletics outfielder Matt Joyce called a fan an anti-gay slur during Friday night’s game against the Los Angeles Angels, ESPN reports. The 33-year-old player was subsequently suspended for two games without pay.
According to an Associated Press photographer who overheard part of the heated exchange, Joyce directed several profanities at the fan, including the anti-slur, and challenged him to a physical fight.
“I was walking back to the dugout and just had a fan yell some vulgar and obscene words,” Joyce explained after the game. “For me, it just wasn’t the right time to say some stuff like that. I fired back, and obviously as soon as you fire back, you regret saying anything, because it’s just not worth it.”
We pride ourselves on being inclusive and expect our entire organization to live up to higher standards.
— Oakland A's ??⚾️ (@Athletics) August 5, 2017
Major League Baseball’s communications department announced Joyce’s two-game suspension Saturday afternoon via Twitter.
Following the suspension, the A’s tweeted an official statement: “The A’s are disappointed by the comments Matt Joyce made to a fan last night. This language is unacceptable & will not be tolerated. We pride ourselves on being inclusive and expect our entire organization to live up to higher standards. We appreciate that Matt is contrite about his conduct and know he will learn from this incident.”
The You Can Play Project has already reached out to Joyce, asking him to participate in their latest video campaign promoting the respect of all athletes and sports fans, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar, who was similarly suspended earlier this year for shouting anti-gay slurs at an opponent, donated his forfeited salary to LGBT organizations.
The You Can Play team would like to invite the Oakland Athletics’ Matt Joyce … to promote respect for the game of baseball and all fans. pic.twitter.com/PfQDm080BE
— You Can Play Project (@YouCanPlayTeam) August 5, 2017