LOS ANGELES – Atlanta pitching coach Roger McDowell apologized Wednesday in response to a fan's complaint that McDowell spewed homophobic comments, made crude sexual gestures and threatened to knock out his teeth with a bat before the Braves played the San Francisco Giants over the weekend.
"I am deeply sorry that I responded to the heckling fans in San Francisco on Saturday," McDowell said in a statement. "I apologize to everyone for my actions."
Justin Quinn, 33, of Fresno said he was in the stands at AT&T Park in San Francisco during pregame batting practice with his wife and 9-year-old twin daughters when he noticed McDowell hectoring three men and asking them, "Are you guys a homo couple or a threesome?" Quinn said he proceeded to make crude sexual gestures with his hips and a bat.
Quinn, who was down in front of the field, then shouted, "Hey there are kids out here," he said during a news conference at the Los Angeles office of noted attorney Gloria Allred.
Quinn alleged that the coach replied that 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?"
Quinn said he felt threatened and was unsure whether McDowell intended to hit him.
"My kids are in panic mode ... they're like grabbing onto me," Quinn said. "I'm talking to him, trying to calm him down and the kids are screaming."
Some parents who were in the stands with their children began to boo at McDowell and came down to retrieve their children. Quinn said that eventually McDowell walked away.
Quinn said he filed a complaint with Giants personnel and also with police but missed most of the game, although his wife and daughters stayed to see it.
Allred sent a letter Wednesday to Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig asking that he launch an investigation and take "appropriate disciplinary action." She also demanded that McDowell take sensitivity training.
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation said that even though McDowell has apologized, the Braves and Major League Baseball must take "real disciplinary action and send the message that anti-gay slurs have no place in sports."
"Professional sporting events should be an environment that all fans and families can enjoy, not a place where children are exposed to violent threats and discriminatory language," the alliance's president, Jarrett Barrios, said.
Selig said the Braves assured his office that they will immediately investigate the allegations and report the results to him.
"Although I do not yet have all the facts regarding this incident, the allegations are very troubling to me," Selig said in a statement. He said he will decide how to proceed after he gets all the facts.
Quinn's children, Taylor and Kaylyn, said they were upset by McDowell's remarks and actions.
"Kids should be allowed to be at baseball games without a coach yelling at them or other people," Kaylyn said.
Taylor said she was upset to hear McDowell say that kids don't belong in baseball parks.
"Children should not have to hear disgusting things they don't want to hear," she said.
Quinn said his family has not heard from the Braves or McDowell.
McDowell, who pitched for 12 years in the major leagues, issued his apology after the Braves beat the San Diego Padres 7-0 Wednesday afternoon.
McDowell was a star reliever with the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies in the late '80s and early '90s, and was a member of New York's 1986 World Series-winning club. He was named Atlanta's pitching coach in 2005.