Support Just the News

Help Fund Honest Journalism

Donate

Mariners CEO steps down following comments on players' English

The MLB condemned Mather’s comments and deemed them as disrespectful and offensive to their players.

Image
Kevin Mather
Kevin Mather
(Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
Updated: February 23, 2021 - 2:35pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Seattle Mariners President and CEO Kevin Mather has resigned following the emergence of video of him commenting last week on the challenges two players had with speaking English.

Mariners Chairman John Stanton said Monday that Mather stepped down while the possibility of firing him was being discussed, according to the Associated Press.

"There were a number of comments made by Kevin that, as I’ve said, didn’t reflect the Mariners, don’t reflect what I believe, what our ownership believes, and were inappropriate," Stanton said. "Those comments included some of the things that have been referenced with respect to our players, and in particular the importance of diversity and inclusion in our organization."

In a virtual event on Feb.5 with a Rotary Club, Mather expressed his dissatisfaction with the team for having to bring on interpreters for players who are not fluent in English when they travel to play baseball in the U.S.

Mather’s most inflammatory comments were references to top prospect Julio Rodriguez and former star pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma and their grasp of English.

Mather said Rodriguez, a 20-year-old from the Dominican Republic, didn’t have “tremendous” English.

He also complained about the cost associated with having an interpreter for Iwakuma, a former All-Star who pitched a no-hitter for the Mariners and is a current special assistant for the club.

"Wonderful human being – his English was terrible," Matthews said. "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. 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.”

The MLB condemned Mather’s comments and deemed them as disrespectful and offensive to their players.

"We are proud of the international players who have made baseball better through their outstanding examples of courage and determination, and our global game is far better because of their contributions," the league said. "His misguided remarks do not represent the values of our game and have no place in our sport."

Mather apologized for his comments Sunday after they were posted on social media.

"I want to apologize to every member of the Seattle Mariners organization, especially our players and to our fans," Mather said. "There is no excuse for my behavior, and I take full responsibility for my terrible lapse in judgment."

Just the News Spotlight