"Go back to where you came from."
The phrase has dominated the American consciousness for more than a week, following President Trump's suggestion in a Tweet that four Congresswomen of color "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came."
Several days later, Trump presided at a campaign rally over a "send her back" chat directed at Somali-born U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn).
At a time when bigots seem emboldened in every arena, it appears logical to assume that conditions in baseball are no different.
Wondering if it was common for ballplayers to hear the phrase "Go back where you came from," we initiated a brief email exchange with Carlos Beltran, a special advisor to Yankees GM Brian Cashman and one of the great all-time Mets.
Beltran is a leader across baseball and confidant to younger players, many from Latin America. If there's an issue brewing under the surface, he would know about it.
"There is no doubt that a lot of players these days from different nationalities have experienced that expression from fans in different cities around the league," Beltran told SNY.
These taunts did not begin in the current political climate. Americans have used the phrase "Go back to where you came from" for centuries. Beltran himself experienced it repeatedly.
"Of course, I heard the phrase many times in my career," he said, adding that he was able to tune out the insults and that they didn't particularly bother him. "I was always respectful with the fans even though I was disrespected by some of them."
This answer is hardly surprising given the reaction of some fans and WFAN callers during the heydey of Omar Minaya's Los Mets era, when an abundance of Latin American players and leadership triggered some xenophobic responses.
Indeed, racism in baseball is persistent, though seldom discussed. Beltran has spoken in the past about minor league coaches who expressed disdain for his lack of English-language skills when he first arrived from Puerto Rico.
In Pedro Martinez's 2015 memoir, the Hall of Fame pitcher writes of a white coach in the minors calling him and teammate Raul Mondesi "dirty bastards" for believing that they were supposed to get on the team bus before showering.
"You don't do that in the States," the coach told them. "This is not the Dominican Republic."
Incidents like this are obviously embedded in everyday American life, and baseball is no exception.
Because the game is well-populated by powerful figures unattuned to issues of race, stories of racist incidents and microaggressions often go untold. Part of this is also because many baseball reporters, this one included, lack the Spanish-language skills required to extract these stories from the clubhouse.
Because of these and other factors, baseball is not only subject to the country's broader divisions, but perhaps is more ripe for them. This was evident earlier this season when Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora, a longtime friend of Beltran's and fellow native of Puerto Rico, declined an invitation to visit the White House. Most of his players of color also skipped the event, while most white players attended.
And now, according to Beltran, players are hearing echoes of the chilling "Go back to where you came from" refrain -- hardly a new insult, to be sure, but one that remains persistent, and for reasons that seem obvious to its newest victims.