July 6, 2022

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Antoan Richardson, Mike Shildt clear the air

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SAN FRANCISCO — Giants first-base coach Antoan Richardson and Padres third-base coach Mike Shildt met at Oracle Park early Wednesday morning, speaking genially on the field in an effort to resolve their dispute from the night before.

Twelve hours prior, in the Giants’ 13-2 victory over the Padres, the two coaches were involved in an argument that led to Richardson’s ejection amid an incident he would later say had “undertones of racism.”

“I just want to make it very clear that in no way do I believe that Shildty is a racist,” Richardson said, addressing reporters alongside Shildt on Wednesday morning. “What I was trying to do is just bring awareness to how words impact certain communities even though they might not have ill intent. This was just helping us to be more aware of what those things mean.”

The situation arose in the top of the third inning on Tuesday. Shildt, who spent the past three seasons as Cardinals manager before he was hired as an adviser in San Diego, is serving as third-base coach while Matt Williams recovers from hip surgery. He appeared to yell into the San Francisco dugout after the Padres had been irked by the Giants’ decision to steal second base while ahead by nine runs.

Richardson responded to Shildt from the dugout, then was ejected by third-base umpire Greg Gibson. (Richardson’s dismissal would allow for a bit of history as the Giants’ Alyssa Nakken became the first woman to take the field in an on-field coaching capacity, replacing Richardson at first base.)

After the game, Richardson called reporters to the Giants’ clubhouse long after it had closed to explain the moments leading to his ejection.

“Obviously, a historic night with Alyssa coaching first base,” Richardson said. “I think that was awesome. I just wanted to clear up the incident that happened tonight that got Alyssa into the game.”

Richardson explained that Shildt was looking into the dugout to find left-hander Alex Wood, who has a longstanding relationship with Shildt. The two then exchanged heated words that brought Giants manager Gabe Kapler into the fray.

“[Shildt] said, ‘You need to control that m—-f—–,’ and at that point in time, I went to the top of the top step, and I said, ‘Excuse me?'” Richardson said. “Because I couldn’t believe what I heard. And at that point in time, Gibson, the crew chief, decided to toss me from the game.

“I say this because I think his words were disproportionately unwarranted and undertones of racism when he referred to me as ‘that m—–f—-,’ as if I were to be controlled or a piece of property or enslaved.”

A day later, Shildt and Richardson arrived early at Oracle Park to discuss the situation. Richardson said he didn’t think Shildt was racist, but he wanted to convey the effects of his words. Shildt wanted to make it clear that “in no way shape or form was that in the context of what was said last night.”

A couple hours later, Shildt and Richardson spoke with reporters behind home plate at Oracle Park, prior to first pitch of the Giants-Padres series finale.

“I don’t know Antoan’s heritage; I can’t walk in his shoes,” said Shildt. “I can only have empathy and love, which I do have and have always had in my life. I used inappropriate language, which is my biggest issue last night, and I apologize for that.”

Richardson praised Shildt’s receptiveness and his willingness to engage in dialogue, hoping to put the spat behind them, while bringing light to an important issue.

“This is more something we both want to use as an opportunity to bring awareness — that sometimes words that are harmless are very insensitive to others,” Richardson said. “And it’s just really important that we are conscious of the things that we are saying. Once again, Shildty’s been a big supporter of the Black community. I appreciate him taking ownership and understanding the impact of his words.”

A day later, the Giants remained upset over Richardson’s ejection. The Padres, meanwhile, fumed that Steven Duggar had stolen a base and Mauricio Dubón had bunted for a hit with a nine-run lead — an apparent breach of the game’s unwritten rules.

But any animosity between Richardson and Shildt had apparently been quashed.

“We’re here to play baseball,” Shildt said. “And the one thing I’ve always loved about our game is it’s regardless of the color of your skin, regardless of your socioeconomics, regardless of what language you speak, and now, thankfully, regardless of your gender — we had a beautiful moment last night with Alyssa. … I think good is going to come of this, because now the reality is we handled this tough situation publicly, as men with solutions and without any animosity. It’s a great example of how people communicate together.”

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