Reds broadcaster Thom Brennaman has been suspended from working Cincinnati’s games after using an anti-gay slur on air Wednesday night, prompting the team to apologize for the “horrific, homophobic remark.”
Brennaman used the slur moments after the Fox Sports Ohio feed returned from a commercial break before the top of the seventh inning in the first game of a doubleheader at Kansas City. Brennaman did not seem to realize he was already on air. He later apologized.
The Reds took Brennaman off the broadcast in the fifth inning of the second game, handing his duties to alternate play-by-play man Jim Day.
“The Cincinnati Reds organization is devastated by the horrific, homophobic remark made this evening by broadcaster Thom Brennaman,” the team said in a statement. “He was pulled off the air, and effective immediately was suspended from doing Reds broadcasts. We will be addressing our broadcasting team in the coming days.
“In no way does this incident represent our players, coaches, organization, or our fans. We share our sincerest apologies to the LGBTQ+ community in Cincinnati, Kansas City, all across this country, and beyond. The Reds embrace a zero-tolerance policy for bias or discrimination of any kind, and we are truly sorry to anyone who has been offended.”
Fox Sports Ohio said in a statement that it agreed with the suspension, adding that Brennaman’s remark was “hateful, offensive and in no way reflects the values” of the network.
Brennaman opened the fifth inning with an apology spoken directly to the camera before handing off play-by-play duties.
“I made a comment earlier tonight that I guess went out over the air that I am deeply ashamed of,” he said. “If I have hurt anyone out there, I can’t tell you how much I say from the bottom of my heart, I am very, very sorry.”
After pausing to announce a home run by Cincinnati’s Nick Castellanos, Brennaman added: “I don’t know if I’m going to be putting on this headset again” and apologized to the Reds, Fox Sports and his co-workers.
Reds reliever Amir Garrett tweeted about Brennaman’s words shortly after the end of the second game:
“To the LGBTQ community just know I am with you, and whoever is against you, is against me,” he wrote. “I’m sorry for what was said today.”
Matt Bowman, another Cincinnati relief pitcher, also tweeted in support of the LGBTQ community, writing, “As a member of the Reds organization, I am so sorry for the way you were marginalized tonight. There will always be a place for you in the baseball community and we are so happy to have you here.”
Brennaman and the Reds’ announcers were working from Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, even though the doubleheader against the Royals was in Kansas City, Missouri. Remote broadcasts have become the norm in Major League Baseball this year because of coronavirus protocols.
The son of Hall of Fame broadcaster Marty Brennaman, Thom, 56, has called major league games for 33 years and has been with Fox Sports for the past 27, covering primarily baseball and football.
“I can’t begin to tell you how deeply sorry I am,” Brennaman said. “That is not who I am and never has been. I like to think maybe I could have some people who can back that up. I am very, very sorry and I beg for your forgiveness.”
Marty Brennaman told the Enquirer late Wednesday night, “As a dad I hurt for him. What he said is not a reflection of who Thom Brennaman is. I know that’s not him. But I also feel terrible for the people the comment offended.”
In a statement Thursday, GLAAD called Brennaman’s apology “incredibly weak and not enough,” saying it was “demanding full accountability” from the Reds, MLB and Fox Sports.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.