Anti-gay tirade costs manager his job

Edmonton Capitals manager Brent Bowers resigned after details of a profanity-laced, homophobic...

Edmonton Capitals manager Brent Bowers resigned after details of a profanity-laced, homophobic tirade against an openly gay umpire came to light. (AMBER BRACKEN/QMI Agency)

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:10 AM ET

It was so shocking, because from everything anybody knew about Brent Bowers, it seemed so out of character.

Yet when details of the profanity-laced, homophobic tirade against an openly gay umpire came to light, the Edmonton Capitals had little choice but to dismiss their field manager.

At least they would have dismissed him, had Bowers not beaten them to the punch.

“He got it out of his mouth before we had a chance to ask him to resign,” said Capitals governor Patrick LaForge.

“We were going through the process of reviewing the league’s decision on a suspension and its implications on us as an organization. Having spoken to Brent, he took it upon himself to resign.”

The incident in question took place on July 31 while the Capitals were on the road in California taking on the Orange County Flyers.

Bowers came out of the dugout to dispute a call at first base and eventually got into an argument with umpire Billy Van Raaphorst, who as crew chief had come over from his spot in the infield to issue a warning to the Capitals dugout to keep quiet.

According to the umpire’s official report, after Bowers was thrown out of the game, he blew a gasket, and among other things, called Van Raaphorst, who is openly gay, a “f---ing faggot” on more than one occasion and threatened that he “ought to kick your ass ...”

Following an investigation into the incident, the Golden Baseball League suspended the Bowers for the remainder of the season and fined him $5,000.

This after reports league umpires had protested an initial two-game suspension.

Bowers, along with LaForge met with the league commissioner in San Diego on Friday.

According to LaForge, Bowers, who could not be reached for comment on Saturday, did not dispute the umpire’s official report.

“Brent’s actions in our terms went beyond what was acceptable,” LaForge said.

“We support the Golden League in their decision to suspend him for the remainder of the season. We further support Brent’s decision to resign.

“From what we’ve read in the report, that’s unacceptable activity towards umpires, it’s unacceptable activity to be watched or heard by our fans.”

It’s a surprising end to Bower’s career in Edmonton.

The Oak Lawn, Illinois native, who had a cup of coffee in the Major Leagues back in 1996 with the Baltimore Orioles, was kept on by the Capitals after the Edmonton Oilers bought the Cracker-Cats franchise.

Apart from a couple of memorable dust-ups with umpires over the past two seasons, which he later admitted were more for show, judging by his dealings with players, fans and media, Bowers seemed like a solid, stand-up individual.

“When we took over Brent’s contract, we did a lot of homework,” said LaForge. “We talked to people that had worked with him in the Golden Baseball League since 2002, in Venezuela with Winter Ball and to some of his contacts in Major League Baseball. He had a high performance evaluation.

“He never faltered while he worked for us. He was a good leader and I think a lot of people will be shocked by hearing about this.”

Unfortunately for Bowers, the incident could not be overlooked.

Despite the culture of baseball where arguments between managers and umpires are common place, Bowers crossed the line.

“Our organization for 30 years has been pretty active in supporting diversity in every form,” LaForge said. “We’ve made some decisions in the last 24 hours to do some cultural diversity training with our whole organization, hockey and baseball. We’re going to continue to seek out opportunities to show and educate that a multicultural, multi-diverse society is a world we live in and it’s a world we promote.”

As for Bowers, time will tell if baseball forgives his indiscretion.

“Certainly Mr. Bowers is completely emotional and distraught that it happened, that it came out of his mouth,” LaForge said. “It certainly puts a blemish on an otherwise pretty clean career. None the less, it’s an unacceptable incident and we won’t have any part of anything like that.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca


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