Marly Rivera, ESPN baseball reporter, fired after on-field incident

Marly Rivera, ESPN baseball reporter, fired after on-field incident

Marly Rivera is out at ESPN. (Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Last week at Yankee Stadium, Ivon Gaete, a freelance TV reporter, was standing near the batting cage waiting for New York Yankees star Aaron Judge to finish signing autographs for a group of kids when Marly Rivera, a baseball reporter for ESPN, began screaming at her in Spanish.

Gaete asked Rivera if she was okay. Rivera responded sarcastically, “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know you speak English now.” Rivera then said, within earshot of both Judge and the kids, “What a f—ing c—.”

The exchange was caught on video by Gaete’s cameraman and described to The Washington Post by three people who were either on the field or saw the video. It would lead to the end of Rivera’s ESPN employment. An ESPN spokesman said Wednesday that Rivera no longer works at the company.

In an interview with The Post, Rivera said she was being “singled out” by Major League Baseball.

Rivera covered the Yankees and national baseball for ESPN. She appeared on its Home Run Derby broadcast and on Sunday Night baseball radio coverage. A native of Puerto Rico, she specialized in coverage of Hispanic players and was among the most high-profile Hispanic women covering the sport.

But the video of the exchange with Gaete touched off an investigation that became a referendum on how Rivera did her job and interacted with colleagues. The video was shared with MLB, which set about determining what happened.

Rivera told the New York Post that the altercation with Gaete stemmed from a miscommunication over trying to conduct an interview with Judge. She said she attempted to apologize to Gaete but believed she was being targeted because she had a history of disputes with Gaete’s husband, John Blundell, a vice president of communications for MLB.

Gaete declined to comment, as did MLB.

In the course of MLB’s fact-finding, its Office of Investigations made calls and received information about the incident at Yankee Stadium and other reports about Rivera’s behavior, according to people who spoke to MLB. The information that MLB collected was then shared with ESPN, according to a person with knowledge of the events. A member of ESPN’s human resources department then conducted a full investigation into the incident at Yankee Stadium. He spoke to several media members, and the company decided to part ways with Rivera. By Thursday, Rivera had disabled her Twitter account.

Multiple reporters described to The Washington Post incidents involving Rivera that they said crossed the line from typical scrapping in America’s largest media market to creating a toxic work environment. Last year, she flipped off another reporter and called her a “white b—-” after the reporter attempted to take a photo of a group of Hispanic players that Rivera was taking a picture of, according to two people who witnessed the incident. In another instance, she called a Latino reporter a “fake Hispanic,” according to multiple people who witnessed it.

“There were extenuating circumstances, but that is not an excuse,” Rivera said in an interview with The Post about those incidents. “I believe these are mischaracterizations of who I am. Disagreements between media members are part of the nature of our business and happen on a regular basis, yet I am being singled out.”