Sources: MLB Forced Out Bob Bowman For Workplace Behavior Issues
MLB last month "forced out" President of Business & Media BOB BOWMAN in November after "years of troubling workplace behavior that former baseball executives were said to be made aware of at least a decade ago," according to a front-page piece by Bachman & Costa of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Bowman was the "architect" of MLBAM and led it for 17 years. He also was "one of the most influential people in sports and digital media when MLB announced his departure on Nov. 6." Sources said that Bowman "verbally abused a coworker in October," prompting MLB Commissioner ROB MANFRED to "push him out." That was "preceded by a July incident in which Bowman allegedly shoved" Fenway Sports Management Exec VP & Chief Revenue Officer FRANK HUCKABONE. Bowman's departure "capped a tenure riddled with concerns about his workplace conduct." Sources said that he "engaged in a pattern of behavior that included propositioning female colleagues, allegedly conducting consensual relationships with subordinate coworkers and cultivating a culture of partying and heavy drinking with employees outside the office." Former MLB President & COO BOB DUPUY at least 10 years ago was "told of concerns about Bowman’s behavior by BAM employees and raised them" with then-Commissioner BUD SELIG. A source said, "What he gave in heartburn was always overshadowed by what he gave in money. Bud had no interest in dealing with it." Manfred said that he "wasn’t aware of any alleged relationships Bowman had with coworkers." He said that a supervisor becoming involved with a subordinate "would have violated MLB’s employee policies." However, Manfred added, “I couldn’t tell you what BAM’s policies were. I wasn’t responsible for them.” Bachman & Costa note rumors of Bowman's incident with Huckabone "got back to Manfred." A source said that Bowman weeks later "asked Bowman about the incident. Sources said that Manfred told Bowman that if he "did something like that again, he would fire him" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/22).
MLB SHAKEUP: YAHOO SPORTS' Chris Cwik noted Bowman "becomes the most prominent figure in MLB to be accused of inappropriate workplace behavior" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 12/21). In N.Y., Kevin Draper notes BAM’s HQ was in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, "apart from the league office on Park Avenue." That distance, and Bowman’s "ability to deliver enormous profits for the league and its team owners, apparently enabled" him to "operate with little scrutiny from league officials" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/22).
TWITTER REAX: Twitter on Thursday afternoon had plenty of thoughts on the details of Bowman's ousting. NBC Sports' Craig Calcaterra: "Bob Bowman called me at home on a couple of occasions because he didn't like things I wrote. He was a yeller. Tried to be a bully. Definitely a guy who thought his power entitled him to the sort of deference most people don't get." SB Nation's Marc Normandin: "how mad do you think Bud Selig was that right after he finished ignoring the rise of steroid use he had to ignore Bob Bowman's behavior." Freelance writer Britni de la Cretaz: "MLB knew about the issues for AT LEAST a decade & did nothing because he made them lots of money." USA Today's Gabe Lacques: "MLB cashed in, Silicon Valley-style, on billions of dollars in advanced media riches. Report indicates that cash came with a Valley-like dose of male toxicity."