MLB: National anthem mishap was 'human error'

Posted at 12:10 PM, May 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-27 00:33:19-04

SAN DIEGO - The fiasco involving the San Diego Gay Men's Chorus and the national anthem before last Saturday's Padres game was the product of human error, worsened by the team's entertainment staff handling unfamiliar responsibilities, Major League Baseball concluded Thursday.

Baseball executives conducted a dozen interviews of people involved in the "regrettable situation" in which a recording of a woman singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" was played instead of a version by the chorus, according to an MLB statement.

Members of the chorus were subjected to heckling when they left the field, and questions were subsequently raised about the motivation behind the incident. It was a black eye for the team a little over a month before San Diego hosts the All-Star Game.

The situation was exacerbated because the lead entertainment supervisor was in a traffic collision the day before and took Saturday off, so employees had to perform duties for which they were "insufficiently trained," according to the MLB statement. The employees had "no malicious" intentions and "universally relayed contrition" for what happened, the MLB concluded.

MLB "received the full cooperation of Padres management, which expressed its deepest apologies," the statement said. "MLB believes that the Padres efforts to remedy the situation, including its invitation to the chorus to return to a future game to perform the national anthem, are appropriate and has every expectation that the club's longstanding record of inclusion will be evident in the future."

Padres President and CEO Mike Dee tweeted a statement in which he said the team will expand its relationship with San Diego's LGBT community.

Dee also said that Art Romero, who was fired in wake of the incident, accepted the team's offer of reinstatement "in a role to be determined."

The chorus called for the team to give Romero, who goes by the stage name DJ Artform, his job back earlier this week, but the Padres withheld comment on his status until after the MLB completed its investigation.

Councilman Todd Gloria, who represents the center of San Diego's LGBT community in Hillcrest, said he commended the Padres and Major League Baseball for swift action and a thorough investigation.

"I was heartened by the dialogue among all parties and appreciate them using this as an opportunity towards building a deeper relationship between their organizations going forward," Gloria said. "I look forward to seeing the proud men of the chorus singing our Anthem at an upcoming Padres game, a win for all involved."

Earlier this week, Dee invited the chorus to perform before a game later this season. The chorus has sung the National Anthem at Padres games previously.