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Angels fire pitching coach Mickey Callaway after investigation of harassment claims


The Angels announced Wednesday they are “ending Mickey Callaway’s employment” with the club effective immediately after the pitching coach was placed on the ineligible list by Major League Baseball following an investigation into sexual harassment claims against him.

The league said Callaway, who had been suspended since February, will remain on the ineligible list through at least the end of the 2022 season.

In a statement, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said: “My office has completed its investigation into allegations of sexual harassment by Mickey Callaway. Having reviewed all of the available evidence, I have concluded that Mr. Callaway violated MLB’s policies, and that placement on the Ineligible List is warranted.”

The long-expected departure came almost four months after Callaway was first accused in a report by the Athletic of making inappropriate advances toward at least five women in the sports media industry over the course of about five years, when he worked for the Angels, New York Mets and Cleveland Indians.

The story alleged Callaway, 46, sent the women unsolicited electronic messages containing comments on their appearance and shirtless photos of himself. One of the women accused him of requesting nude photos in return. Another said he offered to provide her with information about the Mets if she met him for drinks. The story also described an in-person incident when Callaway allegedly thrust his crotch into the face of one of the women.

All the accusers, who spoke to the Athletic on the condition of anonymity, described feeling uncomfortable with the interactions, especially given the power imbalance between Callaway and themselves.

Callaway, who initially denied the accusations, issued a statement to ESPN following Wednesday’s news.

“I apologize to the women who shared with investigators any interaction that made them feel uncomfortable,” Callaway said. “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.”

He added: “In my 25 years in professional baseball I have never taken for granted the privilege of being even a small part of this great game of ours. To say I regret my past poor choices would be an understatement. I remain hopeful that I can return to baseball when eligible at the conclusion of next season, but for now, I plan to work on my own shortcomings and repairing any damage I have caused with my colleagues and, particularly, my family.”

After the initial allegations were published, the Angels suspended Callaway and announced that they would “work closely with MLB to conduct a full investigation.” On Wednesday — 113 days after his suspension began — that process finally reached a result.

MLB announced that Callaway had been placed on the ineligible list just as the Angels took the field for their 9-8 win over the Texas Rangers on Wednesday afternoon..

Manfred said the Angels, Indians and Mets all cooperated with the league’s Department of Investigations, an in-house unit that was created in the wake of baseball’s steroids scandal. That cooperation included “providing emails and assisting with identifying key witnesses.”

MLB spoke to more than 50 people during the investigation and found “dozens of witnesses” to Callaway’s behavior, according to a person with knowledge of the situation who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter and requested anonymity.

“Harassment has no place within Major League Baseball,” Manfred added, “and we are committed to providing an appropriate work environment for all those involved in our game.”

Earlier this year, the Mets fired general manager Jared Porter after ESPN reported that he had sexually harassed a female reporter years earlier, sending dozens of inappropriate text messages. Porter admitted to the wrongdoing after the ESPN report was published and he was fired the next day.

Callaway’s situation played out differently, in part, because he denied the allegations. Experts in employment law said an investigation was necessary to protect the Angels against a wrongful-termination lawsuit.

In the wake of the allegations against Callaway and Porter, MLB updated its workplace code of conduct pertaining to sexual harassment and discrimination, introducing a new third-party anonymous hotline for reporting violations and required anti-harassment and discrimination training for executives during spring training.

The league also announced that there would be punishment for violating baseball’s harassment policy, including a warning, a suspension and a termination of employment.

Angels manager Joe Maddon, who had previously been unable to talk about Callaway’s status in detail, said after the Angels’ game that “of course, we support the league’s decision.”

“It’s a difficult subject to speak about,” Maddon added. “It’s a topic and a subject that nobody likes. We want it to go away. From what I understand, Mickey owned up to it, and that’s pretty strong. He’s a guy that I’ve known for a long time. So I’m happy to hear he did it that way. Regarding the investigation specifically, I don’t really know what was entailed.”

Maddon, who was in his first offseason with the team when Callaway was hired in October 2019, called the entire situation “a surprise, obviously.”

He added: “We all learn from the moments we are attached to somehow. Moving forward, I’m sure not only us but other organizations and groups, and not only in baseball but in industry in general, are all looking at the hiring process a little bit differently. I’m sure we’ll be moving along those same lines.”

That echoed a sentiment first-year general manager Perry Minasian, who had also previously declined to comment on specifics about the Callaway investigation, talked about Feb. 11, when he said the team has “a plan in place on how to better vet the individuals that we are discussing as far as hiring.”

Although the allegations against Callaway had not previously been made public, his behavior toward women had long been an open secret, according to many in the media. For years, women around the sport have warned one another of the potential of becoming one of his targets.

A former pitcher who spent parts of the 2002 and 2003 seasons playing for the Angels, Callaway spent one season in his post as the team’s pitching coach. He joined the club’s coaching staff after two seasons as the Mets manager, where he went 163-161 and was involved in a highly publicized verbal altercation with a male reporter.

According to the Athletic story, the Mets were made aware during the first season of Callaway’s tenure about an incident that took place before they hired him. The Mets said they investigated the claim in August 2018 but declined to reveal the particulars of the incident.

In the wake of Callaway’s firing, pitching coach Matt Wise and bullpen coach Dom Chiti both had the interim tag removed from their titles. They had been serving in those roles since the start of spring training.

Pitcher Griffin Canning said Callaway’s suspension had not been a distraction for the team this season.

“We’re focused on what we can control,” he said. “What we’re doing day in, day out.”

Times staff writer Bill Shaikin contributed to this report.

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