Mickey Callaway finally got his, sort of. His rather incessant sexual harassment of women while employed in three major league organisations, as exposed by The Athletic‘s Brittany Ghiroli and Katie Strang, landed him unemployment after the Angels fired him as their pitching coach—and a place on baseball’s ineligible list through the end of 2022. The question is why only that long.
Callaway’s penchant for sending suggestive and lewd text messages, shirtless photographs, and requests for topless images and drinking dates to five media women at minimum, was exposed at February’s beginning. “The worst kept secret in baseball,” one of the women was quoted as saying of his predations.
The Angels suspended Callaway post haste and agreed to cooperate with a full investigation by baseball’s government. The full details came forth almost immediately after the first revelations, showing Callaway’s telecommunicative tomcattery spread over a five-year period from his pitching coach days with the Indians to his self-immolating term managing the Mets to his very brief Angels tenure.
This wasn’t a man who made a couple of isolated bad mistakes. This was a man who sank himself into a morass of abasement from which he saw women as impressionable targets.
At least once Callaway was affirmed as having offered to share inside information about the Mets’ doings and undoings with one of his media women targets in exchange for getting drunk with him, possibly for openers. At least once otherwise, Indians manager Terry Francona and general manager Chris Atonetti were compelled to defend Callaway to the outraged husband of a Callaway target, before a team attorney suggested Francona himself speak to the man on behalf of making amends.
“Some of it was laziness,” writes Yahoo! Sports‘s Shalise Manza-Young, “since Callaway was hitting on women he came in contact with on a day-to-day basis, in what is supposed to be a professional setting, women who dutifully reported to the ballpark to do their jobs, to share with their respective audiences what was happening within and around the teams they were covering.”
But Callaway knew he had information he could give those women that would help them advance in their careers, and he tried to exploit that . . . You’re put in the position of saying yes and potentially getting yourself into a dangerous, compromising spot at worst, and journalistically unethical position at best; if you say no, you’re potentially burning a critical source. Few people know more about the ins and outs of a team than its manager. If you’re not breaking stories or getting fresh information, you may not be on the beat for long.
Given that woman after woman in The Athletic‘s story said Callaway’s propensity for inappropriate behavior was well known throughout MLB, it’s a stretch to believe his predation was limited to the five women who were brave enough to share their stories with the outlet.
Indeed. If at first it seemed the commissioner’s office moved a little slowly upon the original and damning revelations, putting Callaway on the ineligible list as announced on Wednesday now seems an inevitability. But Manza-Young surely isn’t the only one suspecting Callaway’s future in baseball is limited to non-existent not because he was shown to be even a virtual sexual predator but because his once-vaunted abilities as a pitching coach were belied by the Angels’ continuing inability to find and build viable pitching staffs.
“In a perfect world,” she goes on to write, “Callaway’s suspension would just be a formality and he’d never work for another baseball team again, though history tells us differently. This is a league that saw the Houston Astros trade for and celebrate relief pitcher Roberto Osuna while he was on trial for domestic assault.”
Not to mention the body that saw the Astros try first to throw under the proverbial bus the Sports Illustrated reporter, Stephanie Apstein, who exposed then-assistant GM Brandon Taubman’s post-2019 ALCS whoop about being so fornicating glad they’d gotten Osuna in the direct earshot of three women reporters. It took days for the Astros to smarten up at least to the point of canning Taubman, himself put on the ineligible list until after last year’s World Series.
Callaway can be disposed of readily enough. But the toxin of sexual harassment remains. Writing about Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar’s entry onto baseball’s permanently ineligible list over sexual misconduct in 2014 (three years after Alomar was elected to Cooperstown), Toronto Star columnist Rosie DiMinno pondered how much of the Alomar incident and the Blue Jays’s intended vaporising of his presence passed the proverbial smell test while adding that, yes, she wasn’t exactly a stranger to sexual misconduct, either:
I wish there were more details disclosed about the alleged incident, which surely could have been done without identifying the complainant . . . [and that] comes from someone who was once called a [fornicating (four-letter euphemism for ‘vagina’ starting with ‘c’)] by a player in the Jays clubhouse; who, on another occasion, had a player simulate pelvis thrusting from the rear while I was bending over to conduct an interview with another player at his stall. These were not incidents I reported to the club or to my employer. I’m just not that delicate a flower.
A woman need not be a delicate flower to work with reasonable assurance that the men with whom she deals in her line of work see and act upon her as something and someone above and beyond a target to be plucked. Callaway’s harassment was out of line whether his targets were jasmines or nerium oleanders.
It’s one thing for a man not restricted by a marital or relationship commitment to ask a woman for a date, but it’s something else entirely for a man—whether single, committed, or married—to pursue even one woman, never mind five or more, on terms that might be considered obscene even in the editorial offices of Hustler.
Callaway was a coach and manager and a man in considerable formal authority, but players wield their own kind of authoritative influence, too. His banishment should mean the overdue beginning and continuing of a reasonable remaking/remodeling of the professional baseball work atmosphere. Whether “should” graduates to “does,” alas, remains to be seen.