Tigers pitching coach Chris Bosio was fired on Wednesday, just a few months into his first season, for what the team called “insensitive comments” to a team employee. Those around the Tigers organization have stayed remarkably tight-lipped about what it was that Bosio said, but WXYZ first reported that Bosio’s comments were “racially charged.”
Today, in an interview with USA Today, Bosio claimed that he had been fired over a misunderstanding with an African-American clubhouse attendant. According to Bosio, the attendant overheard Bosio call a white pitcher, Daniel Stumpf, “Spider Monkey,” which was the coach’s nickname for the player. From the article:
“Someone in our coaches’ room asked me (Monday afternoon) about Stumpf,’’ Bosio said. “And I said, “Oh, you mean, ‘Spider Monkey.’ That’s his nickname. He’s a skinny little white kid who makes all of these funny faces when he works out.
“The kid thought we were talking about him. He got all upset. He assumed we were talking about him. I said, “No, no, no. We’re talking about Stumpf.’
“And that was it. I swear on my mom and dad’s graves, there was nothing else to it.’’
(For what it’s worth, I couldn’t find any evidence of Stumpf being called “Spider Monkey” in any public setting.) (Update 6/29, 11:44 a.m.: Stumpf says, “Spider Monkey is not a nickname I have been called or I’m familiar with.”)
Bosio said that he had a meeting with Tigers GM Al Avila, manager Ron Gardenhire, and the team’s assistant GM, where he admitted to using the word and was subsequently fired. Avila, when reached by USA Today, refused to confirm or deny the specifics of Bosio’s comments. Bosio said he plans to hire a lawyer to find out if he should go ahead with a wrongful termination suit.