CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Mickey Callaway situation reveals a failure by the Cleveland Indians to create a setting where women could feel free to report sexual harassment.
The former Indians pitching coach has been accused of inappropriate and crude behavior by five different women, according to an article in The Athletic.
Not all of it occurred with the Indians, where Callaway was the pitching coaching from 2013 to 2017. Some were with the Mets (where he managed in 2018-19) and as the Angels pitching coach (2020).
But the Indians now know that some women who received sexual texts and comments from Callaway were reluctant to report it to the team. That’s a key point.
This also happened when Callaway was managing the Mets. It highlights a problem in pro sports, where some entitled men believe they are God’s gift to women and should be treated as such.
Meanwhile, the women want to show they are tough enough to handle the job in a man’s world. They also fear being cut off by other people in baseball if they do complain.
That can create a toxic environment to be exploited by characters such as Callaway. He counted on the fact the women won’t speak up.
And keep in mind, the biggest culprit in this story is Callaway.
Callaway reportedly had several affairs while with the Indians, who had to know about some of them. The indiscretions were “consensual,” at least from what the Indians say they knew.
In 2017, the husband of a woman engaged in a long affair with Callaway contacted the Indians through the fan relations department. The team took the issue up with President Chris Antonetti, GM Mike Chernoff and manager Terry Francona. The human relations department and legal department were involved.
That’s why Francona said there were no efforts to cover it up.
Callaway was confronted by the team. He supposedly broke off that affair.
What makes the Indians look bad is Antonetti saying this at a Feb. 4 press conference: “There had never been any complaints against Mickey in his time with us, either to me or to our human resources department or other leaders.”
Antonetti was talking about sexual harassment charges. But the team did know about at least one affair that generated a complaint.
THE TENSION OFF THE FIELD
It also created tension between the players’ wives who knew Callaway was married, but was bringing other women with him on the road. This guy was spending a lot of time and energy on women, something that reflects poorly on a member of the coaching staff and his team.
The Athletic story reported: “Some wives shared those concerns with their husbands, and those concerns were conveyed to at least one department head and another staffer, though no formal complaint was filed with human resources or any other department, a source said.”
As an aside, it was a bad idea to have Francona be the only member of the organization speaking today when it was clear Callaway would be the main subject. Francona naturally didn’t say much about it. As I mentioned in the press conference, this should have been handled by someone higher up than the manager.
WHERE THE INDIANS WENT WRONG
The Indians have been one of baseball’s model organizations in terms of how they treat their people. It’s why so many of their top executives stay with the team.
But something went wrong here.
Did the Indians ignore rumors about Callaway, even though there were no formal complaints? I don’t know the answer. It’s something the team must investigate and find out. Major League Baseball also is investigating Callaway.
Second question: Why were the women (most not affiliated with the team) unwilling to complain? As the Athletic reported, none did.
Did they think Callaway was in such a favored position with the team that their complaints would be ignored? In the future, the Indians have vowed to make sure this changes.
They have talked to female employees to make sure they know the team will listen, and they have set up stronger channels of communication. They appear dedicated and sincere when it comes to doing what else is needed. They must be open to change, or another situation like Mickey Callaway could happen again.
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