Rachel Bachman and Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal are reporting that Bob Bowman — the man who founded and built the digital platform that would become MLB Advanced Media and later, the successful spinoff BAMTech — was forced out over workplace misconduct.
Bowman stepped down as the head of MLBAM, the league-owned company which runs MLB.com, MLB.tv and baseball’s other digital properties, in early November. It was assumed at the time that his departure was merely the final, expected component of MLB’s spinoff of BAMTech, which was sold to Disney in a deal that made baseball billions of dollars. The WSJ story says, however, that he was pushed out:
Other forces were at work, people familiar with the situation say. Bowman verbally abused a coworker in October, prompting Manfred to push him out, these people say. That was preceded by a July incident in which Bowman allegedly shoved an executive with the group that owns the Boston Red Sox.
Bachman and Costa report that the bad behavior extended to Bowman propositioning and having sexual affairs with women in his employ and fostering a hard-drinking, hard-partying atmosphere at MLBAM. There is also an allegation that the MLBAM party at the 2016 All-Star Game was attended by hired escorts. Ten years ago, the story alleges, Bud Selig was made aware of Bowman’s bad behavior but, it appears, did nothing about it. His spokesman declined comment for the story.
Bowman, for his part, issued the following statement:
“The culture that started at BAM was hard working and driven. At times, it was also inappropriate and I take full responsibility. This inappropriate behavior reflects my personal flaws and not someone else’s. This behavior and my personal behavior were wrong. To those who felt the sting of my behavior, I am truly sorry. To my family, friends and business colleagues who have been steadfastly supportive of me, and whom I have embarrassed, I apologize.”
Rob Manfred apparently learned of Bowman’s misconduct over the summer and began to question Bowman and others about it before orchestrating his departure. Manfred has likewise moved to integrate MLBAM more fully into MLB’s hierarchy, including a future move to physically relocate the company into the league’s offices.
Bowman, who was once considered one of the two or three most powerful figures in all of professional sports, is just the latest high-profile figure to have committed misconduct of this nature. These acts have occurred in virtually every industry, from entertainment to politics to media to academia to business. The common denominator: power. Men in power using that power to take advantage of and abuse those without it and those in power believing that that power entitles them to act in unacceptable ways.
Bowman is now out of power. And likely never to find himself in power, of anything, again.