As the Atlanta Braves meet on Thursday with pitching coach Roger McDowell to discuss his recent anti-gay tirade, Georgia Equality fired back with this message: We’re watching.
The statewide gay rights group hand-delivered a letter to Braves President John Schuerholz on Thursday, calling McDowell a “bully” and asking for “stronger action” beyond the apology offered by McDowell (bottom photo) and the Braves statement distancing the organization from the tirade.
The letter came from Jeff Graham (top photo), Georgia Equality’s executive director, and reminds Schuerholz that the longtime LGBT activist was among a coalition of people who criticized the Braves over its handling of John Rocker’s anti-gay comments in 1999. Schuerholz was the team’s general manager at the time.
“Mr. McDowell’s actions are far too reminisiscent of the action of John Rocker over a decade ago,” Graham says in the letter. “As one of the leaders of the coaltion that formed to condemn those comments, I cannot express how profoundly disasspointed I am that this has once again happened. What is perhaps most troubling is that unlike John Rocker, Roger McDowell serves in a leadership position within the organization. Without firm disciplinary action, others will assume this his casual use of anti-gay speed and threats of physical violence is somehow tolerable.”
Graham asked Schuerholz to detail what, if any, sensitivity trainig the Braves offer and urged that employees at all levels receive it. He also asked the Braves to join efforts to stop bullying in schools.
Georgia Equality’s letter comes as the Braves are expected to meet with McDowell on Thursday to discuss the April 23 incident.
“It is imperative that you realize that this behavior is the behavior of a bully,” Graham says in the letter. “We have watched with horror how the number of children taking their own lives due to relentenless bullying has escalated over the past few years. When adults engage in this same behvaior, especially adults in the public spotlight like Mr. McDowell, it sends a strong messgae that it’s acceptable.”