Mickey Callaway banned through at least 2022 after harassment probe

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK — Former New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway was suspended by Major League Baseball through at least the end of the 2022 season following an investigation of sexual harassment allegations.

Shortly after MLB’s announcement of the suspension, the Los Angeles Angels said they had fired Callaway, the team’s pitching coach since October 2019. The Angels suspended him on Feb. 2 at the start of MLB’s investigation.

Commissioner Rob Manfred did not release details of what MLB’s probe determined, but said in a statement “I have concluded that Mr. Callaway violated MLB’s policies, and that placement on the ineligible list is warranted.”

In a report published on Feb. 1, The Athletic said Callaway “aggressively pursued” several women who work in sports media and sent three of them inappropriate photos.

Callaway sent uninvited and sometimes unanswered messages to the women via email, text or social media and asked one to send nude photos in return, according to the report. He often commented on their appearance in a way that made them uncomfortable and on one occasion “thrust his crotch near the face of a reporter” while she interviewed him, The Athletic said.

“We want to thank the many people who cooperated with our Department of Investigations in their work, which spanned Mr. Callaway’s positions with three different clubs,” Manfred said. “The clubs that employed Mr. Callaway each fully cooperated with DOI, including providing emails and assisting with identifying key witnesses.”

Manfred said once the 2022 season ends, Callaway can apply for possible reinstatement.

Callaway did not respond to a text from The Associated Press seeking comment.

ESPN reported a statement it said was from Callaway that it quoted as saying: “I apologize to the women who shared with investigators any interaction that made them feel uncomfortable. To be clear, I never intended to make anyone feel this way and didn’t understand that these interactions might do that or violate MLB policies. However, those are my own blind spots, and I take responsibility for the consequences.”

The 46-year-old was the Cleveland Indians’ pitching coach for five years before managing the Mets from 2018-19.

“In an effort to understand and learn from this experience, the commissioner’s office shared with us forward-looking recommendations based on insights they gleaned from the time Mickey Callaway was a member of our organization,” Indians owner Paul Dolan said in a statement.

“While we were not provided with details of the report or of individual experiences or accounts, there was no finding against the Cleveland Indians related to the Callaway matter.”

Dolan went on to say “the information the commissioner’s office shared reinforces our own conclusion that we did not do enough as an organization to create an environment where people felt comfortable reporting the inappropriate conduct they experienced or witnessed. We have contracted with an external expert with extensive experience related to workplace culture and reporting practices to help strengthen the organization.”

Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said the club was not penalized as a result of the investigation but, like Dolan, lamented the team had not produced a work culture in which women were comfortable reporting sexual harassment.

“That’s what bothers me,” Antonetti said. “So I want to make sure that we do everything that we can to create a better environment moving forward. That’s what I and we are exclusively focused on is how do we continue to grow and get better organizationally.”

The Mets will let their previous comments on Callaway stand, spokesman Harold Kaufman said.

Callaway spent the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season as the Angels’ pitching coach under new manager Joe Maddon.

“From what I understand, Mickey owned up to it. I think that’s pretty strong,” Maddon said. “I am sure not only us but other organizations, groups not only in baseball but I think in industry in general are all looking at the hiring process a little bit differently right now. … I think vetting is going to become a little bit more stringent.”

Bullpen coach Matt Wise has been serving as the pitching coach for the Angels.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.