Former Major League Baseball pitcher Mitch Williams, best-known as the “Wild Thing” closer for the Philadelphia Phillies from 1991-93, is suing MLB Network and Deadspin, claiming defamation and breach of contract stemming from a pair of reports that were published in May.
Williams claims that Deadspin and parent publishing company Gawker published “false and anonymous statements” in their account of a youth baseball tournament, during which Williams, a coach for his son’s team, allegedly called one of the players on the opposing team an obscene name and ordered his 10-year-old players to throw at opposing batters.
The network ordered Williams to apologize for the incident, which he did in May via Twitter.
I regret what happened at this weekend’s tournament & apologize. I love baseball & coaching.— Mitch Williams (@Mitch99Williams) May 12, 2014
The suit alleges that MLB Network, where he formerly worked as an analyst, wanted him to sign and amendment to his contract saying he would no longer attend sporting events of his five children. When he refused, Williams claims that the network fired him.
“We are aware that Mitch Williams has filed a law suit against MLB Network. We have not received it, but we have reviewed the reported claims in the statement issued today by his lawyer and there are inaccuracies included throughout,” a spokesman for MLB Network told Philly.com. “We can confirm that Mitch Williams is no longer an MLB Network analyst. We believe that the behavior he demonstrated at the youth baseball tournament speaks for itself.”
According to one of the the Deadspin reports, “Other witnesses—a number of parents, coaches, and other observers contacted us about Mitch Williams's behavior—state that Williams was heckling SJ Titans coaches throughout the game, repeatedly calling one a "squirrelly little teapot," and making harassing comments about the appearance of 10-year-old baseball players on the opposing team.”
The suit, filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Camden County, claims that Williams lost out on the $2 million balance of his contract, along with positions at mlb.com, the Sports Network and Fox Sports.
Williams saved 192 games over his 11-year big league career, including a high of 43 saves in the Phillies’ run to the World Series in 1993. He joined MLB Network in 2009.