MLBPA ‘threatened’ players who spoke out, claims lawyer at center of union drama

The fight inside the Major League Baseball Players Association took another turn with one side of the warring factions claiming the other was attempting to “bully and intimidate” players into changing their thoughts about the union’s leadership. 

Harry Marino has been at the center of an ongoing power struggle in the MLBPA leadership that has pitted the current leadership of Tony Clark and Bruce Meyer against a disgruntled group of players who are concerned with the union’s direction. 

The latest salvo came in the form of statements from Marino and former MLBPA employee catcher Josh Thole, both of whom levied serious allegations against the union and specifically director of player services Kevin Slowey. 

Harry Marino has been at the center of an ongoing power struggle in the MLBPA leadership. Courtesy of Minor League Advocates

“I have received a number of calls from minor-league player reps this week saying that Kevin Slowey called them to bully and intimidate them into changing their opinions on their union’s current direction,” Thole said in a statement, per The Athletic. “I truly don’t know where things went wrong, but this is a sad day. It’s obvious that this is no longer (the late executive director) Michael Weiner’s MLBPA that I remember.”

Marino put out a similar statement, though he did not point to anyone specifically with his accusations. 

“It has been shocking and disappointing to hear that several major-league and minor-league players are being threatened, bullied, and retaliated against for having come forward with their honest opinions,” Marino said according to The Athletic. “It is important to remember that federal law protects every union member’s right ‘to express any views, arguments, or opinions’ and ‘to meet and assemble freely with other members.’ Players should never apologize for exercising these rights.”

Clark did not address either accusation but in a statement of his own, he called the mutiny “a coordinated and covert effort” and asserted that it “has troubled players at all levels of professional baseball.”

Major league and minor league players have fallen under the umbrella of the MLBPA since 2022 and Marino helped minor leaguers unionize. 

The ongoing power struggle has gone on for the past week following a heated video call with some members of the MLBPA’s 72-player executive board in which several players called for Meyer to be replaced by Marino.

Major League Baseball Players Association Executive Director Tony Clark (r.) and Bruce Meyer. AP

The eight-player major-league executive subcommittee of the MLBPA also announced on Sunday that it was distancing itself from the Marino and in a statement said that “this is no longer a Harry Marino discussion, in any respect.”

Tigers righty Jack Flaherty is part of the executive subcommittee and told The Athletic in a separate interview that he felt regret over one phone call where he “put Tony in a bad position.”

“Where Harry tried to push his way through,” Flaherty said. “He tried to pressure Tony, and Tony stood strong, said this is not going to happen. Tony has done nothing but stand strong in all of this. That was something I would love to take back. I never wanted Harry to be in Bruce’s position.”

Flaherty added that he and Clark have spoken and gone over what had happened, as well as feels that the situation has “gotten out of hand.”

“I was not trying to push Harry and give Harry any type of momentum. I was simply trying to inform Tony what was going on and what was coming his way,” he said.

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