In this Feb. 21, 2011, file photo, Atlanta Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell poses in a baseball uniform. A California man claims McDowell made homophobic comments and crude sexual gestures toward fans and threatened him with a bat before the Braves played the San Francisco Giants on April 23. Thirty-three-year-old Justin Quinn, of Fresno, made the allegations Wednesday, April 27, 2011, during a news conference organized by prominent Los Angeles attorney Gloria Allred. AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)
By Robert Jablon. The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — A California man said Wednesday that Atlanta pitching coach Roger McDowell spewed homophobic comments, made crude sexual gestures and threatened to knock out his teeth with a bat when he complained before the Braves played the San Francisco Giants over the weekend.
McDowell apologized Wednesday in a statement released by the Braves: “I am deeply sorry that I responded to the heckling fans in San Francisco on Saturday. I apologize to everyone for my actions.”
Justin Quinn, 33, of Fresno said he was in the stands at AT&T Park in San Francisco during pregame batting practice with his wife and 9-year-old twin daughters when he noticed McDowell hectoring three men and making crude sexual gestures with his hips and a bat.
Quinn, who was down in front of the field, then shouted, “Hey there are kids out here,” he said during a news conference at the Los Angeles office of noted attorney Gloria Allred.
Quinn alleged that the coach replied that kids don’t belong at a baseball park, picked up a bat, walked up to Quinn and asked him, “How much are your teeth worth?”
Quinn said he felt threatened and was unsure whether McDowell intended to hit him.
“My kids are in panic mode ... they’re like grabbing onto me,” Quinn said. “I’m talking to him, trying to calm him down and the kids are screaming.”
Some parents who were in the stands with their children began to boo at McDowell and came down to retrieve their children. Quinn said that eventually McDowell walked away.
Quinn said he filed a complaint with Giants personnel and also with police but missed most of the game, although his wife and daughters stayed to see it.
Allred on Wednesday sent Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig a letter asking that he launch an investigation and take “appropriate disciplinary action.”
“Both coach McDowell and the team should be fined and coach McDowell should be ordered to apologize to Mr. Quinn and his family, to all of the fans and to the city of San Francisco for his homophobic, vulgar and threatening behavior,” Allred said in the letter.
McDowell also should be required to take sensitivity training, she said.
In a statement, Selig said he was informed Wednesday that McDowell had been accused of engaging in “highly inappropriate conduct” toward fans at a game in San Francisco and that he found the allegations “troubling.”
The Atlanta Braves have assured my office that they will immediately investigate the allegations, and report the results of the investigation to me,” Selig said in the statement. “After I have all the facts, I will make a determination of how to proceed.”
In a separate statement, the Braves said they were “concerned” about the allegations and that “this in no way represents the Braves organization and the conduct we expect of our employees.”
Quinn’s children, Taylor and Kaylyn, said they were upset by McDowell’s remarks and actions.
“Kids should be allowed to be at baseball games without a coach yelling at them or other people,” Kaylyn said.
Taylor said she was upset to hear McDowell say that kids don’t belong in baseball parks.
“Children should not have to hear disgusting things they don’t want to hear,” she said.