ATLANTA (CBS/AP) — His eyes red and voice wavering, Roger McDowell returned as the Braves’ pitching coach Friday and apologized for his crude conduct at AT&T Park in San Francisco that led to a suspension. He spent a “very humbling” two weeks away from the game and promised there will be no repeat of such actions.
“I’ve always said this is the best office in the world,” McDowell said, before pausing to gather himself. “When I put the uniform back on I felt how fortunate I am to be able to put this uniform on and represent the organization.”
McDowell apologized in his statement “to anyone who was offended by my actions” and answered questions.
“I am not proud of the way I acted and I know that it will not happen again,” he said.
McDowell had issued an apology in a statement following the April 23 confrontation but had made no further comment before Friday. He was accompanied by Braves President John Schuerholz, who noted in a statement the coach has “acknowledged and apologized for his behavior of a couple weeks ago.”
The suspension by Major League Baseball came after a fan made McDowell’s actions public. Justin Quinn was at the Braves-Giants game in San Francisco with his wife and 9-year-old twin daughters. He said he saw McDowell ask three men, “Are you guys a homo couple or a threesome?”
Quinn said the coach made lewd sexual gestures with his hips and a bat. Quinn said he shouted, “Hey there are kids out here.” According to Quinn, McDowell said 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?”
McDowell said he has apologized to Quinn’s family and is in sensitivity training.
“These past two weeks have been very humbling, emotional and a reflective time for me and my family to better understand what has happened,” McDowell said. “I have and will continue to learn from this and have committed to being a productive member of the Atlanta Braves organization and to this coaching staff.”
He declined the chance to give his version of events.
“My feeling is that this is something that I’ve learned from,” he said. “What happened, the volleying of what was said or what was done or what was not said and done, I don’t think is something that needs to be rehashed because I don’t think it’s productive in any aspect.”
When the suspension was announced May 1, Quinn’s attorney, Gloria Allred, said the discipline showed that MLB “believes that homophobic slurs, sexually lewd conduct and threatening behavior by coaches or any other person employed at a game in the major league will not be tolerated.”
McDowell was not paid during his suspension. He said he has tracked Braves games on TV but had no contact with the pitchers.
“That’s been the difficult part,” he said. “But I understand the reason behind it and I accept and apologize for all of my actions that brought us to this point,” he said.
Braves minor league pitching coordinator Dave Wallace filled in for McDowell during the suspension.
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