One of Derek Jeter’s first items of business upon taking over ownership of the Marlins in 2017—a priority so important to him that it was carried out before Jeter had officially taken over—was the sacking of virtually every other big baseball name in the upper ranks of the organization. The house-cleaning wiped out former World Series manager Jack McKeon, “Mr. Marlin” Jeff Conine, and Hall of Famers Andre Dawson and Tony Perez.
There’s no good way to fire people out of spite, but even by those standards the sackings were handled in a yucky way. Though the firings were done at the behest of the incoming Jeter regime, they were delegated down the ranks to preexisting Marlins employees, reportedly to spare Jeter the unpleasantness of confrontation. To make matters worse, when fans reacted negatively to the firings, Jeter’s group made an insulting gesture in order to give off the appearance of mending fences. From a USA Today report:
The outrage among an already jaded Marlins fan base led to a follow-up telephone call when Dawson and Perez received offers to return. Their salaries would be slashed to $25,000, and they would not be permitted to wear Marlins uniforms or be in the major-league clubhouse.
Dawson, at least, viewed that as a bad faith offer, and both Dawson and Perez declined to return. As you can imagine, this way of doing business left plenty of lingering bad feelings. Those bad feelings might otherwise not matter to a person of Jeter’s creepy detachment, but it turns out they may come to bear on Jeter’s inevitable induction into the Hall of Fame next summer. Dawson and Perez, as current Hall of Famers, would normally be expected to attend his induction ceremony, but according to a story from Scott Miller of Bleacher Report, they’re not real enthused about celebrating Jeter’s big day:
“I sincerely doubt [that I will attend] at this point,” Dawson told Bleacher Report last weekend, when the 2019 class was inducted. “All indications are likely not. ... I can’t speak for Tony. But I don’t have a sense or feeling like I want to sit on that stage to hear what [Jeter] has to say.”
Perez is less clear about his intentions, but both men sound likely to sit out at least Jeter’s speech, if not the entire weekend. And according to Dawson, their anger toward Jeter is shared among other members of the “close-knit fraternity” of Hall of Famers. There’s unlikely to be any sort of mass boycott, but there could be plenty of frosty shoulders. Pete Rose, who is not in the Hall of Fame, also chimed in:
“You’ve got two Hall of Famers who are class guys, and [the Marlins] are not tearing the fucking door down in terms of paying them, and then Jeter’s going to take $5 million a year and have the guy he bought the team from fire them.”
“What background does he have in running a baseball team? He’s a great shortstop, OK?”
Perez and Dawson are clear that what they resent is less the fact that they were sacked and more that it was all handled in such a cold and disrespectful manner. Jeter never called or corresponded with either in any way, and indeed to this very day neither have heard from Jeter directly—Miller reports that Jeter even avoided talking to them when he made the rounds at Cooperstown last weekend, where he was celebrating former teammate Mariano Rivera’s HOF induction. With the fans he’s scattered, the executives he’s scapegoated, the players he’s alienated, and the Hall of Famers he’s turned into enemies, Jeter sure hasn’t made very many lasting friends down in Miami.