Milwaukee Brewers fans showered pitcher Josh Hader with applause Saturday in his first appearance on the mound since a series of controversial tweets he authored in high school were made public during last week’s All-Star game.
Hader, 24, came on in relief in the top of the seventh-inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers, jogging onto the field from the bullpen amid roaring applause, ESPN reported. The majority of fans rose to their feet as support for Hader reportedly grew louder and louder.
“I was focusing on my job, not trying to let anything in the past haunt me, and not be a distraction,” Hader said. “This is what I love to do, and it helps me clear my mind. It means a lot, having Milwaukee’s support, just knowing that they know my true character. Just forgiving me for my past, because that’s not who I am today.”
During last Tuesday night’s All-Star game in Washington, D.C., Twitter users retweeted some of Hader’s tweets from 2011 and 2012 when he was in high school, which included “I hate gay people,” “white power,” and “KKK.” One retweeted post quoted Hader as saying he only wanted women for cooking, cleaning and sex. Hader apologized after the game, saying he was 17 and immature when he made the posts.
On Friday, Hater reportedly made a tearful apology to his teammates and coaches and also addressed the controversy with the media with his teammates joining him in the interview room at Miller Park in a show of solidarity. Hader said he hopes people can see that he’s a far different person than the tweets indicate.
“I’m not expecting that everybody is going to forgive me early,” Hader said. “But I just hope that people see my true character today, and I hope that I can show them that that’s not who I was.”