Minor league manager’s vulgar tirade against baseball’s only openly gay umpire costs him his job, but umpire handles attack with calm
Leslie Robinson General Gayety
Even if you don’t like baseball, you’ve probably seen video of a team manager vociferously arguing a call with an umpire. The manager might throw his cap. He might throw a base. He might throw out his back throwing a base.
Brent Bowers, skipper of a minor league team, performed an unusual physical maneuver and delivered a scalding tirade during a confrontation with openly gay umpire Billy Van Raaphorst. Bowers now has a place in baseball history, but it will only get him into the Hall of Shame.
On July 31, Bowers’ Edmonton Capitals played the Orange County Flyers in Fullerton, Calif. Van Raaphorst, of Irvine, Calif., was the crew chief.
In the first inning, another umpire called a close play at first base. Bowers and some of his players pointedly objected to the call. Van Raaphorst warned them.
When Bowers and two players continued beefing, Van Raaphorst ejected them, the second day in a row he’d tossed Bowers in the first inning.
Bowers promptly benched his brain.
Outsports.com obtained the official report Van Raaphorst gave to the Golden Baseball League in which the umpire provided his account of what happened next.
Bowers ran over to him and screamed, “You know what I heard? I heard you are a fucking faggot … . So what do you do you fucking faggot? Do you take it up the fucking ass, you faggot?”
Bowers bent over and grabbed his ankles, apparently fearful the umpire hadn’t understood his words and a visual aid was in order.
This leader of men screamed into Van Raaphorst’s face, “What’s the matter, did your fucking boyfriend fucking cum on your face today? Is that how you like it you fucking faggot?”
It was a fine, family-friendly day at the ballpark.
Bowers threatened, “I ought to kick your ass you faggot.”
The plate umpire came over and Van Raaphorst walked away. Bowers screamed at the plate umpire, “I know he is a faggot. I was told by [two prominent people in the league] that he is a fucking faggot. I know he is a faggot!”
Whew. Van Raaphorst, who stands 6-foot, 4 inches, did well not to knock him into the hotdog stand.
Several possibilities here. The first is clear: This manager can’t manage his anger.
As to the second and third possibilities, his rant was so extreme and so primal, Bowers either is a poster child for the testosterone-soaked ethos of pro sports, or he’s gay.
My bet is the former. The very idea of the latter probably makes him want to throw bats out of the dugout — and probably preferably with me in the way for even suggesting such a thing.
The Golden Baseball League responded to the homophobic tirade by suspending Bowers for two games. Yup, a whole two games. That decision was the foulest of foul balls.
Fortunately, Van Raaphorst’s fellow umps were incensed over this slap on the wrist, and threatened to walk off the job. The league then suspended Bowers for the rest of the season.
Bowers, who admitted to the tongue-lashing, resigned.
The guy without a job said he regrets what he did. “I’ve grown up more in three days than ever before,” said Bowers.
That still makes him only about 14.
The league president said, due to this incident, all 10 teams will be required to go through diversity training. Now that is a grand slam.
Kudos to Billy Van Raaphorst, who managed to endure an appalling situation. I don’t know if there’s a blessing for baseball umpires, so I’ll make one up: May your calls be accurate, may your temper be slow, and may a line drive never land in your teeth.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 20, 2010.