Report: Cleveland Indians were aware of complaints about Mickey Callaway's behavior

ByABC News
March 2, 2021, 12:49 PM

The Cleveland Indians were made aware of complaints about Mickey Callaway's sexually inappropriate behavior during his tenure as their pitching coach, despite the team's public statements to the contrary, according to a report by The Athletic.

Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti, in response to an earlier report by The Athletic that detailed allegations against Callaway, said last month that the organization was unaware of any inappropriate behavior toward women.

But according to the latest report published Tuesday by The Athletic, the husband of a woman who had an extramarital affair with Callaway from 2015 to 2017 contacted the Indians multiple times to complain about Callaway's behavior.

The team's public relations and communications staff brought the husband's complaints to the attention of Antonetti, Indians manager Terry Francona and general manager Mike Chernoff during the summer of 2017, according to The Athletic.

"This issue was addressed with [Callaway] by the three highest-ranking baseball officials," a former Indians employee told The Athletic.

Francona said later Tuesday that no one in the Indians organization "covered up" for Callaway. 

"Nobody's ever deliberately covered up for anybody, I can tell you that," Francona said on a Zoom call from the team's spring training complex in Goodyear, Arizona.

The Indians followed with a statement a few hours later.

"Our organization continues to actively cooperate with MLB on their investigation into Mickey Callaway," it said. "It is important we honor the confidentiality and integrity of that investigation. While we don't believe the reporting to date reflects who we are as an organization, we will not comment further on the specifics of this matter.''

"We remain committed to creating an inclusive work environment where everyone, regardless of gender, can feel safe and comfortable at all times. We will let our actions -- not just our words -- reflect our commitment.''

The Athletic reported that the affair between Callaway and the woman included "unsolicited pornographic material," including photos and at least one video, according to the husband. The husband discussed the affair in April 2017 with a Major League Baseball security official, who told him that Callaway "wants this all to go away." A league source confirmed to The Athletic that a report about the husband's complaint was filed to MLB.

A Cleveland-based attorney spoke with the woman later that summer in a phone call that she recorded, according to The Athletic. The attorney, Tom Mannion, told the woman that he had spoken with Callaway and Francona about the matter and said the World Series-winning manager had offered to speak with the husband.

The Indians denied being in contact with Mannion about the issue, and Mannion told The Athletic he does "not recall ever speaking to Terry Francona."

"In June of 2017, we received reports from a man alleging extramarital contact between Mickey and his wife over a two-year period," the Indians said in a statement to The Athletic. "Within days of the report, we spoke with Mickey about the alleged behavior, and he maintained that the relationship was consensual and outside of the workplace. Following our conversation with Mickey and to our knowledge, there were no further complaints of misconduct from this person during Mickey's tenure with the club."

Francona was asked Tuesday if he was troubled by The Athletic report.

"I have never worked in a place where I have more respect for people than here," said Francona, who is starting his ninth season with Cleveland. "And I've been very fortunate to work for some wonderful people. I believe that in my heart.

"I don't think today is the day to go into details, things like that. I do hope there is a day, because I think it would be good, and I think it's necessary."

Shortly before Francona spoke to reporters, his son, Nick, posted on Twitter that he had read the new report on Callaway and confronted his father. The younger Francona said the Indians "are clearly in the wrong."

"Their behavior is unacceptable, and even worse, it's hard to have faith in them to improve and learn when they seem more concerned about covering up wrongdoings than addressing them honestly," Nick Francona wrote on Twitter.

The 61-year-old Francona, who managed only 14 games last season because of health issues, said his son's comments were painful.

"I love all my children unconditionally," he said. "As you can imagine, that's a very difficult thing to see. So to deal with it publicly is hurtful."

Callaway, who was with Cleveland from 2010 to 2017 and served as the pitching coach for his last five seasons, was hired as the New York Mets manager in October 2017. The husband also emailed the Mets in August 2018 to notify the team about Callaway's affair with his wife.

Callaway, currently the pitching coach for the Los Angeles Angels, has denied wrongdoing, according to ESPN sources and The Athletic. He responded Monday to The Athletic's request for comment.

"While much of the reporting around my behavior has been inaccurate, the truth is that on multiple occasions I have been unfaithful to my wife, and for that I am deeply sorry," Callaway told The Athletic in an email. "What I have never done is use my position to harass or pressure a woman. I am confident that I have never engaged in anything that was non-consensual. I feel truly blessed that my wife and children have stuck with me as the most personal and embarrassing details of my infidelities have been revealed. I will continue to work as hard as I can to repair the rift of trust that I have caused inside of my family."

Callaway has been the Angels' pitching coach since being fired by the Mets in October 2019. He was suspended by the Angels last month after the initial report by The Athletic, in which five women accused Callaway of lewd behavior.

California labor law typically requires a full investigation of such allegations before an employee can be fired for cause if the employee denies wrongdoing. The Angels already promoted bullpen coach Matt Wise to serve as interim pitching coach last month.

Sources told ESPN's Alden Gonzalez on Tuesday that Major League Baseball has taken on the investigation, not the Angels, who are simply cooperating. The investigation is ongoing, sources said, and there is no timeline as to when it might be wrapped up.

Angels manager Joe Maddon declined to comment Tuesday on the latest report, citing the ongoing investigation.

"I just can't,'' Maddon said. "There's nothing for me to comment, add or subtract, whatever. We'll just let this play itself out. We'll find out where it lands, and then we'll take it from there, but for right now, I can't say anything.''

Callaway pitched for the Angels in 2002 and 2003 while Maddon was the team's bench coach. Callaway was Maddon's first major hire when he took over in Los Angeles in 2019.

The Athletic, citing interviews over the past month with 22 people who interacted with Callaway during his time with the Indians -- including 12 current or former team employees, also reported Tuesday that additional women have come forward to accuse Callaway of inappropriate behavior while they worked for the team.

One Indians employee told The Athletic that Callaway's workplace behavior was "the worst-kept secret in the organization," and the wife of a player who was with the team in 2015 said Callaway was "just someone you wanted to stay away from."

The women who interacted with Callaway during his time with the Indians did not disclose his behavior through official channels, according to The Athletic.

"I don't think it's necessarily a Cleveland issue but a baseball issue," one woman who worked for the Indians told The Athletic. "As women, we feel like if we report something, we'll be looked at like a tattletale or that if we talked, [the team] will figure out who reported it."

One former team employee said, however, that Antonetti's comments earlier this month "hit me the wrong way."

"I know that's the way Chris has to do it and run things, but the amount of people in that organization who know about all that stuff, I don't know how he can then face his staff," the former employee told The Athletic.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.