Brian “Bubba” Harkins was fired by the Angels last March after providing illegal ball-doctoring substances to visiting pitchers. According to the longtime Angels staffer, Harkins claimed he was made a “public scapegoat” in baseball’s efforts to crack down on the use of foreign substances.
Harkins, 55, had spent decades with the Angels prior to his dismissal. At the time, he was the visiting clubhouse manager. The team dismissed him after learning through an MLB investigation that he was providing a blend of sticky substances to visiting pitchers to aid their grip of the baseball.
Back on August 28, Harkins filed a defamation complaint against the Angels and Major League Baseball in Orange County Superior Court. The Angels and MLB filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on November 2.
On Thursday, more information on the case came out as Harkins claimed many Angels used his concoction of rosin and pine tar over the years, including pitchers that were on the team in 2020. According to the article, the pitchers include Troy Percival, Brendan Donnelly, Tyler Chatwood, Kevin Jepsen and, most recently, Cam Bedrosian, Keynan Middleton, Yusmeiro Petit, Luke Bard, Matt Andriese, Dylan Peters, Jose Suarez and Dylan Bundy.
Percival, who spent a decade as the closer for the Angels said back in September that he taught Harkins how to make the mixture of pine tar and rosin in spring training “mostly because it was so dry in Arizona and the balls were so slick out there.”
In addition to Angels pitchers, Harkins also claimed that some big-time starting pitchers have used it as well, including Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Felix Hernandez, Corey Kluber and Adam Wainwright.
In the article from the LA Times, this is the text message from Cole, who was on the Angels at the time. The text was sent at 11:39 a.m. on January 17.
“Hey Bubba, it’s Gerrit Cole, I was wondering if you could help me out with this sticky situation,” the pitcher wrote, adding a wink emoji. “We don’t see you until May, but we have some road games in April that are in cold weather places. The stuff I had last year seizes up when it gets cold.”
Harkins was interviewed by attorneys for MLB and the Angels on March 26 as part of an investigation into the use of illegal substances. Daniel Rasmussen, the attorney for Harkins, claimed yesterday that the Angels “did not want their players disciplined and shamed”. He went on to add that Major League Baseball didn’t want to deal with another scandal after the Astros debacle. Rasmussen also added Harkins was labeled a “traitor, cheater and a fraud” after the news and is now unemployable.
“Our point is, Bubba was made a one-man scapegoat, and that they did this ‘investigation’ in an effort to protect the players,” Rasmussen said. “No player has been disciplined, and Bubba has gotten hammered through this whole thing. His reputation has been trashed.”
Rasmussen is currently seeking at least $4 million in damages if the case ends up going to trial. There will be a hearing to determine whether the case will move forward on January 21.