A former New York Mets pitching coach is filing a lawsuit against his old employer, alleging age discrimination, TMZ reported Tuesday. Phil Regan, who was 82 years old at the time, was named the team’s interim pitching coach in June 2019 after the dismissal of Dave Eiland. Regan had been in the Mets organization since 2009 and was serving as a minor league assistant pitching coordinator before being elevated to the big league club.
Under Regan’s watch, the Mets pitching staff pitched significantly better, as the club went 46-26 following the All-Star break — good enough for the second-best record in the National League in the second half. The Mets ultimately missed the playoffs though, finishing 86-76 on the season.
In the lawsuit obtained by TMZ, Regan claims that the team’s former general manager, Brodie Van Wagenen, said he would not return to the team in 2020 because he was “too old.” According to Regan, Van Wagenen also told him that the team would hire the baseball lifer back “if we don’t find the young pitching coach we are looking for.”
Jeremy Hefner, who is currently New York’s pitching coach, was hired in December 2019.
“Phil is the first to crack jokes about his age,” Regan’s attorney Matthew Blit said in a statement to TMZ Sports, “however there is nothing funny about a person being told that they are being passed over because their employer wants someone younger. That’s discrimination, plain and simple.”
Blit added, “Suing for discrimination in professional sports is extremely rare. In fact, Phil debated doing this for many years. But the hurt from the conversation that he had with Mr. Van Wagenen continues to haunt him to this day. He can hear the exact words playing in his head over and over. Phil knew this had to be done.”
While it didn’t overlap with the alleged incident, Van Wagenen was not brought back as the team’s general manager following an ownership change.