This story has been updated with a statement from #DoWhatsRightMLB at 12:43 p.m.
On Monday morning, the office of Commissioner Rob Manfred and the staff of Major League Baseball announced that they would suspend San Francisco Giants CEO and managing general partner Larry Baer without pay through July 1 in connection with a domestic dispute caught on tape on March 1.
“I respect and accept the Commissioner’s decision, and appreciate the fair and thorough process undertaken by MLB and the Giants,” Baer said in a statement.
The public face of the Giants’ ownership group was caught on a cell phone camera stepping over his wife, Pam, who was 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.”
San Francisco police investigated the incident, which was said to be part of a 25-minute long verbal argument, and both Baer and his wife issued statements stating it was simply a normal spat that takes place over the course of a 29-year marriage, and that they were “deeply embarrassed” by the incident. Civic leaders in the city of San Francisco, including Mayor London Breed, demanded action be taken against Baer. The San Francisco District Attorney’s office declined to prosecute.
“Based on my review of the results of the investigation, I have concluded that Mr. Baer’s conduct was unacceptable under MLB policies and warrants discipline,” Manfred said. “In determining the appropriate level of discipline, I find that Mr. Baer should be held to a higher standard because as a leader he is expected to be a role model for others in his organization and community. Based on my conversation with Mr. Baer, it is clear that he regrets what transpired and takes responsibility for his conduct.”
Baer was investigated and is being punished under Major League Baseball’s joint domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy, which applies to front-office members as well as on-field personnel.
The group of civic leaders — #DoWhatsRightMLB — responded to the punishment late Tuesday morning.
“The Commissioner … has rightfully sent a message that because Mr. Baer holds a senior leadership position, he is held to a higher standard of conduct than are major league players, commensurate with his level of responsibility in the organization,” an open letter from #DoWhatsRightMLB said. “Our objective has been to ensure that MLB recognizes the impact of Larry Baer’s conduct on our community, in particular our young people, and takes appropriate disciplinary action. This is an important teachable and precedent-setting moment. We commend the Commissioner for the thoughtful consideration he applied to this difficult situation.”
Baer was placed on a leave of absence on March 4, agreed to by himself and the Giants board, with the position of the team’s designated control person falling to Robert Dean, the son-in-law of late Giants principal owners Harmon and Sue Burns, and Baer’s detailed day-to-day decision-making duties being taken over by a cadre of Giants executives, including president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi. That will continue under the terms of Major League Baseball’s suspension. The Giants board will also make changes to the club’s corporate governance structure and will designate a new permanent Major League Baseball control person (likely Dean), meaning Baer will no longer represent the team in league matters such as owner’s meetings. Dean spoke in Baer’s place at the team’s annual Play Ball Lunch on Monday.
“The Commissioner has imposed what we believe to be appropriate disciplinary measures and we will work with Major League Baseball and Mr. Baer to ensure that all aspects of the disciplinary program are completed,” the Giants said in a statement. “Mr. Baer has apologized for his unacceptable behavior and has recommitted himself to undergo the necessary counseling program to ensure that this never happens again.”
The Giants said that Baer, who has been managing general partner since the retirement of Peter Magowan in 2008, and president and CEO since Bill Neukom stepped down after the 2011 season, will remain CEO and president of the club upon his return from suspension. Baer, along with Magowan, was part of a group of investors that bought the Giants in 1992, keeping the team from moving to Tampa. He and the late Magowan were the principle actors in signing Barry Bonds.
“I made a serious mistake that I sincerely regret and I am truly sorry for my actions,” Baer said in a statement. “My unacceptable behavior fell well short of what must be demanded of every person, particularly someone in my position and role in the community. I will now immediately begin the significant work ahead of me to listen and learn from my mistakes and to seek professional advice. I am committed to doing what it takes to earn the trust and respect of the many people impacted by my actions.”