Seattle Mariners President Kevin Mather Resigns After Making Disparaging Comments About Players
Kevin Mather — president and CEO of the Seattle Mariners — has resigned from his position after seven years on the heels of disparaging comments he made about multiple players during a Rotary Club meeting earlier this month.
On Monday, the team's Chairman John Stanton said in a statement on Twitter that he was "extremely disappointed when [he] learned of Kevin Mather's recent comments," which included remarks about some players' grasp of the English language.
"His comments were inappropriate and do not represent our organization's feelings about our players, staff and fans," Stanton went on. "There is no excuse for what was said, and I won't try to make one. I offer my sincere apology on behalf of the club and my partners to our players and fans. We must be, and do, better."
Stanton revealed that he is "acting as president and CEO until a successor can be chosen," and thanked Mather "for his 25 years of service to our franchise," sharing that his former colleague's resignation was "effective immediately."
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He added that the group has "a lot of work to do to make amends," promising "that work is already underway" and concluding, "Everyone at the Seattle Mariners remains committed to our mission of winning on the field and serving our fans and communities off the field. We will demonstrate that commitment through our actions."
Mather's comments were made during a virtual discussion with a Bellevue, Washington, Rotary Club on Feb. 5. Among those he spoke about was Hisashi Iwakuma, a former pitcher for the Mariners who was hired last month as a special assignment coach.
"We just rehired Iwakuma; he was a pitcher with us for a number of years. Wonderful human being; his English was terrible," Mather said of the Japanese athlete, 39. "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."
"And I'm going to say, I'm tired of paying his interpreter," Mather continued. "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."
He also said of 20-year-old outfielder Julio Rodríguez, who is Dominican, "[He's] got a personality bigger than all of you combined. He is loud. His English is not tremendous."
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The Major League Baseball Players Association issued their own statement about Mather's remarks, tweeting Monday, "The Club's video presentation is a highly disturbing yet critically important window into how players are genuinely viewed by management. Not just because of what was said, but also because it represents an unfiltered look into Club thinking."
"It is offensive, and it is not surprising that fans and others around the game are offended as well," the organization continued. "Players remain committed to confronting these issues and the bargaining table and elsewhere."
Mather expressed remorse in a statement obtained by NBC Sports on Monday, saying, "I want to apologize to every member of the Seattle Mariners organization, especially our players and to our fans. There is no excuse for my behavior, and I take full responsibility for my terrible lapse in judgment."
"My comments were my own. They do not reflect the views and strategy of the Mariners baseball leadership who are responsible for decisions about the development and status of the players at all levels of the organization," he added.
Mathers concluded, "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."