Despite assertions that a March 1 altercation between San Francisco Giants CEO Larry Baer him and his wife Pam in Hayes Valley was merely a private quarrel gone public, prominent San Francisco figures are calling for discipline of the longtime baseball executive.
A coalition of Bay Area groups against domestic violence has issued a call for Baer to be disciplined, and possibly suspended by Major League Baseball, over an incident between Baer and his wife, showing her falling to the ground as he tried to pry a cell phone from her hands, which was caught on video.
A group including leaders of La Casa de las Madres, Asian Women’s Shelter, the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women, the Equal Justice Society and BART, issued an open letter on Friday, demanding action from Major League Baseball. On Monday, mayor London Breed added her voice to the chorus, saying that “Major League Baseball needs to send a message that any and all acts of violence against women is unacceptable.”
The group’s open letter, addressed to Rob Manfred, the Commissioner of Major League Baseball, asserts that how the league handles Baer — who has taken a leave of absence, replaced by a cadre of other Giants executives as the decision-making body of the team — “is a test of how seriously Major League Baseball views its responsibility to hold its leaders, as it does with its players, to the highest standards of personal conduct.”
Likewise, Breed stated that MLB needs to “send a message that any and all acts of violence against women is unacceptable.”
Major League Baseball was one of the first professional leagues to adopt a policy on domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse in 2015. That policy includes a section on investigations: “The Commissioner’s Office will investigate all allegations of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse involving members of the baseball community. The Commissioner may place an accused player on paid administrative leave for up to seven days while allegations are investigated. Players may challenge any decision before the arbitration panel.”
Major League Baseball and the San Francisco Police Department are currently investigating the incident involving the Baers. Both spouses issued statements following the release of a video of the altercation on TMZ.
The video shows Baer stepping over his wife, who seated at a table in a public space in Hayes Valley, and then suddenly trying to grab a cell phone from out of her right hand.
Pam Baer, who has an injured foot, screams, “Oh my god, no!” as she falls to the ground. In a second clip, bystanders yell at her to “get the f**k away from him,” as Baer tells his wife, “Stop. Pam, stop,” as he walks away. Pam Baer continues to repeat, “Oh my god.”
The open letter tells Manfred that the “incident in question is precedent-setting, and not, as some have asserted, a squabble over a cell phone in which it appears that no laws were broken. Behavior does not have to be criminal in order for it to be wrong and contrary to the standards set by MLB.”
It also cited Baer’s statement of remorse after the video was released, in which he said, “This is not the person I aspire to be.”
“We imagine that so do the parents who enroll their children in the Junior Giants,” the letter states, “who are taught about character, integrity, leadership, and bullying prevention.”
The group calls for specific actions by Major League Baseball, and if not that body, than from the Giants themselves:
- Reprimand — a strong public statement by you that MLB will not accept or tolerate such behavior by anyone in MLB, particularly an owner and a CEO.
- Significant suspension from San Francisco Giants and Major League Baseball operations.
- Substantial financial penalty that exceeds the minimum levied against players for incidents of domestic violence and physical abuse.
- Requirement to complete an appropriate individualized specialized treatment plan with a professional or organization that specializes in domestic violence.
The letter was signed by, among others, Kathy Black, the executive director of La Casa de las Madres; Beckie Masaki, founding executive director of the Asian Women’s Shelter; Debbie Mesloh, the president of the SF Commission on the Status of Women; Eva Paterson, the president and co-founder of the Equal Justice Society; Lateefa Simon, a board director of BART; Esta Soler, the president and founder of Futures Without Violence and Beverly Upton, the executive director of the San Francisco Domestic Violence Consortium.
Breed, who grew up in San Francisco as an avowed Giants fan, cited the open letter in her statement.
“The letter … echoes an all too familiar reality where incidents involving violence against women are not met with true accountability,” Breed said. “While Mr. Baer has apologized and expressed remorse for his behavior, it does not excuse his actions and it does not erase what transpired. Mr. Baer’s actions were serious and wrong. We are a City that loves and supports our San Francisco Giants, and that means holding our organization and its leaders to the highest of standards.”
There has been no contact between Baer and the team during his leave, reported Andrew Baggerly of The Athletic, and Robert Dean has been designated the interim “control person” (representing the Giants in league matters), according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Baer has kept a low profile since the release of the video. Along with his leave of absence, Baer, according to reports, was not at an investors’ weekend in Scottsdale during spring training. Baer is one of the principle investors in the Giants, and was one of the main figures associated with the purchase of the team in 1992, as part of a group headed by the late Peter Magowan.