ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith apologizes for racist remark aimed at Angels’ Shohei Ohtani

ESPN host Stephen A. Smith apologized to Los Angeles Angels’ Japanese player Shohei Ohtani for his xenophobic comment.

Smith was accused of xenophobia after saying that Ohtani’s reliance on interpreters damages the popularity of the Major League Baseball.

“The fact that you got a foreign player that doesn’t speak English, believe it or not, I think contributes to harming the game to some degree, when that’s your box office appeal,” said Smith on Monday in an episode of “First Take.”

Smith believes that players who speak English fluently could better improve baseball’s popularity instead, saying: “It needs to be somebody like Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, those guys. And unfortunately at this point in time, that’s not the case.”

Ohtani speaks some English and Spanish. However, he chooses to use interpreters during interviews. For Smith, that was something that cannot be ignored.

“When you talk about an audience gravitating to the tube, or to the ballpark, to actually watch you, I don’t think it helps that the No. 1 face is a dude that needs an interpreter so you can understand what the hell he’s saying, in this country,” Smith said. “And that’s what I’m trying to say.”

After being heavily criticized for his remark, Smith initially refused to acknowledge that he was wrong. However, later on that night, he issued an apology to the baseball star.

“Let me apologize right now,” Smith wrote on Instagram. “As I’m watching things unfold, let me say that I never intended to offend ANY COMMUNITY, particularly the Asian community — and especially SHOHEI Ohtani, himself.

“As an African-American, keenly aware of the damage stereotyping has done to many in this country, it should’ve elevated my sensitivities even more. Based on my words, I failed in that regard and it’s on me, and me alone! Ohtani is one of the brightest stars in all of sports. He is making a difference, as it pertains to inclusiveness and leadership. I should have embraced that in my comments.”

Shohei Ohtani


Shohei Ohtani , nicknamed “Shotime”, is a Japanese professional baseball pitcher, designated hitter, and outfielder for the Los Angeles Angels of Major League Baseball . (wikipedia)

Major League Baseball


Major League Baseball is an American professional baseball organization and the oldest of the major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. (wikipedia)

Stephen A. Smith


Stephen Anthony Smith is an American sports television personality, sports radio host, and sports journalist. Smith is a commentator on ESPN’s First Take, (wikipedia)



ESPN is an American multinational basic cable sports channel owned by ESPN Inc., owned jointly by The Walt Disney Company and Hearst Communications . (wikipedia)

Los Angeles Angels


The Los Angeles Angels are an American professional baseball team based in Anaheim, California, part of Orange County and the Los Angeles metropolitan area. (wikipedia)

Los Angeles Angels (PCL)


The Los Angeles Angels were a Minor League Baseball team based in Los Angeles that played in the “near-major league” Pacific Coast League from 1903 through 1957. The next year, (wikipedia)

Babe Ruth


George Herman “Babe” Ruth was an American professional baseball player whose career in Major League Baseball spanned 22 seasons, from 1914 through 1935. (wikipedia)

American League


The American League of Professional Baseball Clubs, or simply the American League , is one of two leagues that make up Major League Baseball in the United States and Canada. (wikipedia)

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