The Braves met with pitching coach Roger McDowell on Thursday in the wake of allegations that he used anti-gay slurs and gestures in an argument with fans at San Francisco’s AT&T Park last Saturday. They are not expected to announce a decision on potential punishment until Friday morning.
The Braves were off Thursday before opening a three-game series against the Cardinals at Turner Field on Friday.
McDowell issued an apology on Wednesday, saying “I am deeply sorry that I responded to the heckling fans in San Francisco on Saturday. I apologize to everyone for my actions.”
Giants fan Justin Quinn, 33 of Fresno, Calif., accused McDowell of yelling “Are you a homo couple or a threesome?” to fans sitting in the left field seats and simulating a sex act with a bat.
Quinn, who was sitting nearby with his 9-year-old twin daughters, said he asked McDowell to watch his language in front of children.
Celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred, who is representing Quinn, said McDowell responded by saying “Kids don’t [expletive] belong at the baseball park.”
She also said McDowell walked toward him in a threatening manner, holding a bat. Quinn said McDowell asked him “How much are your teeth worth?”
Quinn, 33, demanded an apology at a press conference held Wednesday in Los Angeles with his wife and two daughters.
Allred said Thursday she’s been contacted by another baseball fan who said he was verbally abused by McDowell at a game last season. Allred declined to name the fan or specify the ballpark, saying only it was a father with young children.
“It was an anger issue and it also involved young children,” said Allred. “The concern is it may not be an isolated (incident).”
She intends to notify Commissioner Bud Selig with the details.
Selig called Quinn’s allegations “very troubling” and said in a statement Wednesday evening he would determine how to proceed after the Braves complete their investigation and report to him.
The Braves expressed their concern about the allegations in a statement Wednesday “and the behavior described by a witness today. This in no way represents the Braves organization and the conduct we expect of our employees. We will withhold further comments until we finish gathering information.”
This is McDowell’s sixth season as the Braves’ pitching coach.
Among those to rush to McDowell’s defense in the fall-out Thursday was Jerry Pritikin, 74, a long-time Cubs fan, who used to interact with McDowell from the bleachers at Wrigley Field in the 1980s when McDowell was a pitcher for the Mets. Pritikin also happens to be gay.
“Being openly gay, I understand why some people would be disturbed, as I was,” Pritikin said. “But he made an apology and I accept that.”
Pritikin said he got to know McDowell personally during exchanges back and forth from the bleachers. The two used to throw Frisbee.
“He’s been such a good guy,” Pritikin said. “He always had fun with people in the bleachers, no matter what ballpark he was in, but because Chicago had such a great bleacher crowd, they really looked forward to him coming whenever he came to town. He was truly a great entertainer.”
Pritikin voiced his support of McDowell in an e-mail to Selig Thursday. He’d written Selig in recent years after anti-gay comments by former Cub Julian Tavarez and former Brave John Rocker, but those e-mails were much more critical, he said.
“I could understand someone who would not have known of Roger’s career or his antics at the ballpark might consider, ‘Well this is another hot-headed person,’” Pritikin said. “The other two guys were definitely prejudiced in what they were saying. I don’t believe Roger is that kind of guy.”