Detroit Tigers commentator Jack Morris apologized on-air after making a joke that mocked Asian accents while discussing Los Angeles Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani during their game against the Detroit Tigers Tuesday night.
Morris’ comment happened after his fellow sportscaster asked during the Aug. 17 game, “now what do you do with Shohei Otani?” as Otani was coming up to bat.
“Be very, very careful,” Morris replied, in what sounded like a mockery of a Japanese accent. His co-anchor didn’t respond but it didn’t take long for Morris to apologize.
Shortly after making this comment, Morris said, “well folks, Shohei Otani is coming to the plate and it’s been brought to my attention… and I sincerely apologize if I offended anyone in the Asian community for what I said about pitching and being careful to Shohei Otani. I did not intend for any offensive thing and I apologize if I did. I certainly respect and have the utmost respect for this guy, and I don’t blame a pitcher for walking.”
It should be noted he didn’t actually apologize for the joke itself, but for the possibility anyone might be offended. Representatives for the Tigers and the Angels didn’t immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
One person watching the game argued Morris should face repercussions for his comments. “Jack Morris should probably get some forced time off after this. Once again highlighting that as the tigers return to being a competitive baseball team they desperately need a new play-by-play booth,” they noted on Twitter.
It’s unclear what motivated Morris to apologize or if he will face any consequences for his remarks.
“It sure sounds like he’s mocking Japanese speakers on live television,” one viewer noted on Twitter after Morris’ remarks were heard live.
In 2017, Houston Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel was suspended for five games after making an anti-Asian racist gesture at Los Angeles Dodgers player Yu Darvish — but Gurriel wasn’t suspended until after that year’s World Series.
Otani is a standout pitcher in the MLB and abroad; he holds the record for fastest pitch by a Japanese person with a 102.5 mph fastball. As one of the most talked-about baseball players right now in the MLB, Otani’s helped drive new fans to the Los Angeles Angels since he joined the team in 2018.
Before he was a sportscaster, Morris pitched for the Detroit Tigers from 1976-1990. He was one of the highest-paid players in American League Baseball for several years in the late 1980s and early 90s and was part of a World Series-winning squad four times. In 2018, Morris was inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.
Morris became a part-time analyst for the Detroit Tigers in 2015. In addition to pitching for the Tigers during his MLB career, Morris also started as a pitcher for the Minnesota Twins, Toronto Blue Jays and Cincinnati Reds.
Check out a clip of Morris’ comments and more reactions from baseball fans below.