Kevin Mather is walking back remarks that went viral over the weekend, apologizing for what the Mariners president and CEO described as a “terrible lapse in judgment.” Addressing the Breakfast Rotary Club in Bellevue, a Seattle suburb, on February 5th, Mather delivered an odd, seemingly unprompted rant on Hisashi Iwakuma, a former Mariners pitcher who now serves as a special assignment coach within the organization. Among other complaints, Mather belittled the Japanese ace for struggling to pick up English. He also seemed exasperated at having to shell out $75,000 a year for Iwakuma’s translator.
“Wonderful human being; his English was terrible,” said Mather in a YouTube clip uploaded Sunday. The video has since been deleted. “I’m tired of paying his interpreter.”
Mather, who is also a minority owner, made similarly disparaging quips about Dominican outfielder Julio Rodriguez, ranked as the No. 5 prospect in all of baseball, according to MLB.com. “Julio Rodriguez has got a personality bigger than all of you combined,” said Mather via ESPN Wire Services. “He is loud. His English is not tremendous."
Apparently not done putting his foot in his mouth, Mather went on to call longtime third baseman Kyle Seager, whose 189 homers rank fourth in club history, “overrated.” Mather also openly admitted to manipulating Jarred Kelenic and Logan Gilbert’s service time, delaying both players’ free agency by keeping them in the minors despite being worthy of big-league call-ups.
“I’ve been on the phone most of the day apologizing to the many people I have insulted, hurt or disappointed in speaking at a recent online event,” said Mather in his apology Sunday night. “I am committed to make amends for the things that I said that were personally hurtful and I will do whatever it takes to repair the damage that I have caused to the Seattle Mariners organization.”
Mather, who first joined the club as Seattle’s executive VP of finance in 1996, has come under fire before. Multiple women accused Mather of inappropriate workplace conduct between 2009-10, with three of those complaints resulting in settlement payments, according to the Seattle Times. The Mariners haven’t reached the playoffs since 2001, the longest active drought in MLB.
UPDATE: 4:45 PM ET
According to a statement released Monday by Mariners chairman and managing partner John Stanton, Mather has resigned as president and team CEO, effective immediately.