published Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Braves’ McDowell hit with fine, ban

ATLANTA — Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell was suspended for two weeks without pay Sunday by Major League Baseball for inappropriate comments and gestures he made toward fans before a game in San Francisco.

The suspension is retroactive to Friday, when McDowell was placed on administrative leave by the Braves. He also was fined an undisclosed amount for the April 23 incident.

McDowell will be required to complete sensitivity training and will have to apologize directly to the fans involved, Justin Quinn and his family.

Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement Sunday that insensitivity to others “simply cannot and will not be tolerated.”

“I understand that Mr. McDowell is very contrite about his conduct, and hopefully this incident will be used to increase public awareness of the importance of sensitivity to others,” Selig said. “I commend Justin Quinn and his family for bringing this issue to our attention so that it will not happen again in the future.”

Quinn said he was in the stands with his wife and 9-year-old twin daughters before the April 23 game at San Francisco when he noticed McDowell ask three men “Are you guys a homo couple or a threesome?”

Quinn said McDowell made crude 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 issued an apology Thursday and, according to the release from the commissioner’s office, asked last week to apologize directly to Quinn and his family. The apology was being delayed until the investigation was completed.

“I understand the decision made today by the commissioner,” McDowell said in a statement Sunday. “I am embarrassed by my actions and I plan to give a personal apology to Mr. Quinn and his family. I would also like to offer a public and heartfelt apology to the fans of San Francisco, to the Atlanta Braves organization, my family and to Major League Baseball.”

Braves president John Schuerholz said the team supports Selig’s decision.

“We were clearly disappointed in Roger’s remarks and actions and the Atlanta Braves organization does not tolerate that kind of behavior,” Schuerholz said.

“The Atlanta Braves organization and Roger McDowell deeply regret that this incident occurred and again apologize to all involved, including Mr. Quinn and his family, and the San Francisco Giants and their fans.”

The release from the commissioner’s office said Quinn and his family will be invited to a Giants home game as guests of Major League Baseball. Also, baseball will “reach out” to education programs that promote tolerance and sensitivity.

In a statement released by his attorney, Gloria Allred, Quinn applauded the discipline imposed on McDowell.

“I am pleased to see Major League Baseball imposing discipline on Coach McDowell for his actions,” Quinn said. “I love baseball dearly and my family and I are now looking forward to getting back to the ballpark for another game.”

Allred said the discipline “demonstrates that Major League Baseball 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.”

Minor league pitching coordinator Dave Wallace is filling in for McDowell.

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