Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Josh Hader made good on his word, apologizing to his teammates ahead of Friday’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers after years-old racist and anti-gay tweets surfaced during Tuesday’s All-Star Game.
Hader had apologized when speaking to reporters Tuesday night about the controversial comments, and he said he intended to apologize to the team.
“I just wanted them to know I’m sorry for what I did back in the day and the mistakes I made,” Hader told reporters after Friday’s meeting. “That they’re a family to me and they weren’t what I meant.
“I’m grateful for having my teammates behind me and supporting me. I hope they know the person I truly am.”
As he said Tuesday, Hader, 24, stressed to his teammates that the thoughts expressed in his tweets seven years ago weren’t similar to what he thinks today.
“They were never my beliefs,” he said. “I was young. It was stuff out of ignorance and not what I meant.
“I regret mistakes I made in the past. They don’t resemble the person I am now. That’s not my beliefs at all. It’s tough because of people I hurt by those tweets. That’s not something I wanted to do. It hurts me deeply.”
Hader was emotional during the meeting, and the remorse he showed helped earn the support of his teammates.
“It’s always tough to see a grown man cry,” outfielder Brett Phillips, a close friend of Hader’s, said. “You could see the sincerity and hear the sincerity in his voice. He’s very upset. Today was big for him. You could tell he’s very sorry. He apologized to all of us. From here, it’s just moving forward, as tough as that’s going to be.
“We know who Josh Hader is as a person. He’s a great person; he’s a great teammate. He respects everyone he meets. Obviously, we were all in disbelief when this came out because this isn’t who he is. I’ve lived with Josh the last four years. Not once has he made me feel he is (the person) in those tweets.”
Manager Craig Counsell also extended his support.
“He offered some very heartfelt, emotional comments to the team,” Counsell said. “He’s emotional, very remorseful. In there, really, he’s asking for support. He’s asking because he’s hurting. We’re supporting him and trying to extract some positives out of a tough situation.”
Earlier Friday, Hader met with Billy Bean, Major League Baseball’s vice president for social responsibility and inclusion, for roughly two hours to begin sensitivity training mandated to him by the league.
“That’s a young man who is in a tremendous amount of pain,” Bean said of Hader. “I sympathize for him tremendously. I was really proud of him today, the way he wanted to convey that he let his teammates down. He wants to repair that more than anything.”
Hader has a 1.50 ERA and has struck out 89 batters in 48 innings with the Brewers this season. In addition to apologizing to his teammates, he also provided a message to Milwaukee fans.
“I hope that from people I’ve touched and come across, they know who I truly am,” he said. “I made mistakes. I’m not perfect. I’ve grown as a person. Baseball really helped me grow.
“I just have to move on from my mistakes. That’s not the person I am.”
—Field Level Media