Former Red Sox prospect Brett Netzer is an admitted racist and homophobe who showed his true colors on social media last week. The Red Sox released him one day after his appalling tweets had surfaced, no questions asked.
Though Netzer’s egregious comments show these hateful viewpoints still exist in corners of sports and society, the Red Sox’ immediate action demonstrate how teams are trying to stamp them out.
The madness started Friday, when Netzer started tweeting for the first time since late December. Up until then, his timeline largely consisted of tweets about regular sports stuff and banal observations about things like mosquitoes and the misuse of “your” and “you’re.”
But his commentary suddenly took a repugnant turn. For the next two days, Netzer incessantly questioned Chaim Bloom’s Jewish faith, saying the Red Sox’ chief baseball officer “supports black lives matter” and “the group of sodomy, lgbt pride.”
His pinned tweet Monday was a post attacking transgender people. “Any person who is secretly transgender, and their partner does not know, and sexual actions have taken place, is a rapist and a sexual molester. may God be the judge,” Netzer wrote.
He also defended his questioning of homosexuality. “I think ‘why?’ is the best question there is,” Netzer posted. “why is homosexuality wrong? why? what harm is it?”
When confronted, Netzer said he is a “racist” and “makes assumptions on a persons race/ethnicity/culture.” He seemed thrilled when the Red Sox released him.
While it’s easy to write off Netzer as an irrelevant clown, his bigoted viewpoints aren’t spouted in isolation. They can still reach and impact LGBTQ people. He’s played baseball for his entire life, playing his college ball at UNC Charlotte. The Red Sox selected him in the third round of the 2017 draft.
Netzer played in the Red Sox’ system from 2017-19. It’s not a stretch to believe he encountered at least one LGBTQ teammate during his time from high school through the minor leagues.
In recent months, we’ve seen a couple of stories about rampant homophobia among young male athletes at elite schools and affluent towns. An out former wrestler at Princeton wrote an op-ed about the culture of hate on the wrestling team; high school hockey players in a wealthy Massachusetts suburb instituted razing rituals such as “Gay Tuesdays” and “Hard R Fridays.”
People still act this way. But importantly, they’re not gaining support in the sports world, even in staunchly conservative communities. For example, we reported last year about a private Catholic high school that rehired a gay coach following outcry from students and parents.
Last fall, pro baseball player Bryan Ruby came out, so other LGBTQ players don’t have to hide their identities in a traditionally unprogressive sport.
As an organization, the Red Sox are staunch advocates of LGBTQ Pride. Somebody like Netzer can’t represent the franchise in any capacity.
And now, he doesn’t. Good riddance.