In the first inning during a playoff game Friday between the Chicago White Sox and Houston Astros, Jim Kaat made an on-air remark about one of Chicago's players that he says was meant to be praise. By the fifth inning, the MLB Network announcer was offering up his apologies. CNN reports that the comments that got the 82-year-old broadcaster into hot water came as White Sox third baseman Yoan Moncada was at the plate, when ex-MLB manager Buck Showalter, who was calling the game with Kaat, lauded Moncada's skills.
"First time I saw him in the big leagues I looked around the dugout and I said, 'Can we have one of those?'" Showalter said of the 26-year-old Cuban star, per the New York Post. To which Kaat replied, laughing: "Get a 40-acre field full of 'em." It was an apparent reference to slavery during the Civil War, when freed slaves were supposed to receive 40 acres of land and a mule (a promise President Andrew Johnson later nixed), and backlash to his comment was swift.
"Hey @MLB @MLBTV can we maybe talk about this 'Get a 40 acre field full of 'em' comment by the announcer?" one miffed viewer asked, posting a clip of the offending remark, per Yahoo Sports. Kaat's mea culpa came on air just a few innings later. "Earlier in the game, when Yoan Moncada was at the plate, in an attempt to compliment the great player that he is, I used a poor choice of words that resulted in an insensitive and hurtful remark," Kaat said. "And I'm sorry for that." KTRK notes that was no comment on Kaat's comments from the MLB Network, the league itself, or either team as of mid-Friday. (Read more MLB stories.)