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Indians pitcher, wife says family received death threats after Friday’s loss

Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Nick Wittgren, right, is congratulated by catcher Roberto...
Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Nick Wittgren, right, is congratulated by catcher Roberto Perez after the Indians defeated the Kansas City Royals 5-3 in a baseball game, Wednesday, June 26, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak) (KY3)
Published: Jul. 24, 2021 at 5:02 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The wife of a Cleveland Indian’s pitcher took to social media Saturday to denounce the vile violent abuse that many professional athletes endure during their careers.

Her husband Nick Wittgren allowed five runs on three hits and a walk during Friday’s game against the Rays. He was given credit for the loss.

As a result, both Wittgren and his wife say they received a litany of abuse, including death threats.

A few hours later, Nick Wittgren posted screenshots of the vile messages he received.

“I know where you live,” a message read. “I will get you tonight and kill your family.”

This is a common experience for athletes, Wittgren said.

Recently, Black players for England’s national soccer team were harassed after missing penalty kicks during the Euro 2020 championship. Earlier this year, Indians infielder Yu Chang was also targeted after an error. He posted screenshots of racist, anti-Asian social media messages he said he received.

Cleveland Indians fans who packed Progressive Field on Saturday told 19 News they were outraged that someone would threaten the pitcher and his family over the outcome of a baseball game.

“They’re spineless, they’re useless, they’re weak, they are a waste of human beings,” said Lynn from Chagrin Falls. “Everyone has a bad day at work. Do we want to treat everyone that way that has a bad day at work? The Wittgren’s are wonderful people. They do wonderful things for the baseball community and to take cheap shots at the family, that’s just outrageous.”

“I think a lot of this behavior is terrible, so we’re not a very polite society anymore,” said Betty from Cleveland Heights. “We don’t edit our thoughts. We just blurt them out — especially on the internet.”

The Indians ball club itself also issued a statement of support for the Wittgrens.

“The Wittgren family brought the situation to our attention following last night’s game and we took immediate steps to notify the appropriate authorities,” the team wrote. “We continue to work through all available security channels in an ongoing attempt to identify individuals who engage in this type of behavior towards our team members and eliminate future instances. Abusive and threatening language undermines the ability of social media platforms to create positive, healthy connections.”

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