March 5, 2021

Fired Angels clubhouse worker names pitchers in ball-doctoring case

Attorneys for fired Angels clubhouse worker Bubba Harkins have submitted affidavits from former big leaguers Wally Joyner and Mike Sweeney and text messages from Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole as part of their lawsuit against the Angels.

The documents, filed in Orange County Superior Court on Thursday, were submitted to demonstrate that Harkins did not supply “illegal substances” and that he was not a “traitor” to the Angels.

In the suit, Harkins’ attorneys claim that his reputation was damaged by the publicity surrounding the case. The suit claims the publicity surrounding Harkins dismissal was the equivalent of a $ 20 million advertising campaign.

The Angels declined to comment on the ongoing legal issue.

To Jan. 21 hearing has been scheduled to determine whether the case will move forward.

Harkins was fired on March 3, 2020, after 38 years of employment with the Angels in various jobs, including 30 years as the visiting clubhouse manager.

Harkins was fired days after Major League Baseball sent a memo to its clubs instructing them that there would be a crackdown on the use of foreign substances on baseballs.

“The termination of my employment came as a complete surprise to me since I had never received anything but compliments for my hard work and dedication to the team and my management of the visitor’s clubhouse,” Harkins wrote in his declaration. “To my knowledge, there are no negative reviews in my personnel file. I have never received a warning or been counseled against any activity related to my employment. ”

Harkins’ suit charges the Angels and MLB made him a “scapegoat” for providing such substances.

The filing on Thursday includes extensive documentation about the widespread use of substances to help pitchers grip the baseball, particularly in cold weather.

“Brian Harkins was not a traitor to his team,” Joyner said in his affidavit. “Many people within the Angels organization knew about the mixture of rosin and pine tar Brian Harkins used to make for pitchers. Many Angels pitchers used it over the years. Many Angels coaches have encouraged its use by pitchers over the years. Why? It makes the game safer. ”

Joyner played for the Angels from 1986-91 and continued his big league career through 2001, subsequently becoming a big-league hitting coach.

Harkins also provided an affidavit in which described how longtime Angels closer Troy Percival taught him to place rosin, pine tar and Mota stick (a firmer pine tar) in the bottom of a soda can and melt it with a lighter to create the sticky substance.

The opposition also includes a declaration from Harkins in which he recalled a March 26 interview with attorneys from MLB and the Angels. During the interview, Harkins claims, he identified Cole, Verlander, Max Scherzer, Felix Hernandez, Corey Kluber, Joba Chamberlain, Adam Wainwright and Edwin Jackson among the pitchers who previously asked for his specific blend.