photo from Wikimedia Creative Commons by Joshua Goldberg
Seattle Mariner CEO Kevin Mather resigned Monday after comments he made about the English-speaking ability of some players, including former pitcher and current coach Hisashi Iwakuma.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports Mather came under intense pressure to hand in his resignation after the Rotary Club posted a speech he made to them on February 5 on YouTube.
That speech has since been taken down.
“Wonderful human being – his English was terrible. He wanted to get back into the game, he came to us, we quite frankly want him as our Asian scout/interpreter, what’s going on with the Japanese league. He’s coming to spring training,’ Mather said, speaking about Iwakuma, according to the Daily Mail.
‘And I’m going to say, I’m tired of paying his interpreter. When he was a player, we’d pay Iwakuma ‘X,’ but we’d also have to pay $75,000 a year to have an interpreter with him. His English suddenly got better. His English got better when we told him that.’
About top Mariner prospect Julio Rodriguez, Mather said he didn’t have “tremendous English.”
“I want to apologize to every member of the Seattle Mariners organization, especially our players and to our fans,” Mather said, per MLB.com. “There is no excuse for my behavior, and I take full responsibility for my terrible lapse in judgment.”
Team chairman John Stanton called the comments “inappropriate” and not representative of the Mariners.
“There is no excuse for what was said, and I won’t try to make one,” Stanton said, according to CNN. “I offer my sincere apology on behalf of the club and my partners to our players and fans. We must be, and do, better.”
The Major League Baseball Players Association also commented on the video.
“It is offensive, and it is not surprising that fans and others around the game are offended as well,” it said, calling the video “a highly disturbing yet critically important window into how players are genuinely viewed by management.”
Mather has been with the Mariners since 1996 and became CEO in 2017.
“I’ve been on the phone most of the day today apologizing to the many people I have insulted, hurt, or disappointed in speaking at a recent online event,” Mather said.
“I am committed to make amends for the things I said that were personally hurtful and I will do whatever it takes to repair the damage I have caused to the Seattle Mariners organization.”
CNN reports Mather also received scrutiny in 2018 after two women employees came forward to complain about comments and actions he took in 2009 and 2010 while he served as the team’s Vice President.
“At the time, I didn’t recognize how my actions were affecting the people around me,” he said in 2018. “I am truly sorry for the people I hurt and how I came across. It was a humbling experience, and I’ve tried to learn from my mistakes. I take full responsibility for my actions, and I was grateful for the opportunity to change my behavior and the management training I received. I’ve worked to become a better co-worker, a better leader, and a better person.”
The team at the time said it imposed appropriate discipline and asked Mather to undergo sensitivity training.
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