Reporter Britt Ghiroli this week alleged that a then-Orioles player in 2012 lured her to his hotel room and made unwanted physical advances toward her.
She recounted the episode in a column for the Athletic that aims to describe the kinds of harassment female sports reporters face — and the few recourses they feel they have. She shared the story in response to the sexual harassment allegations that cost New York Mets general manager Jared Porter his job this week, stemming from lecherous, unwanted texts he sent in 2016 while with the Chicago Cubs.
The Porter allegation has brought scrutiny this week to how women, particularly female reporters, are treated in Major League Baseball, where they are a small minority in a sport where all the players and the vast majority of coaches and managers are men.
Ghiroli, now a senior columnist for The Athletic, was covering the Orioles for MLB.com in 2012 when, she wrote, an unidentified Orioles player invited her to his hotel room under the guise of passing along news. Instead, he made sexual advances toward her.
“I walked in to candles lit and Drake playing,” she wrote. “My stomach lurched as he came at me, trying to kiss me. I pushed him away and blurted out the only thing I could think of: What on earth would give him the idea that I was into him? I’ll never forget the answer: ‘Because you were nice to me.’”
Ghiroli declined to respond to requests for comment from The Baltimore Sun.
In the column, Ghiroli said she didn’t tell anyone but her best friend that night, and didn’t raise the issue with the player or team because she needed them for professional purposes.
She also outlined some of the challenges of breaking into the business as a female reporter.
In a statement, Orioles executive vice president of community relations and communications Jennifer Grondahl said it was “difficult to read about Britt’s experience in 2012,” and said the Orioles “have zero tolerance for harassment of any kind.
“Part of our policy includes prompt investigation of all accusations and appropriate remedial action where our policy has been violated to make sure it stops,” Grondahl said. “Had we been aware of this situation when it occurred, we would have acted immediately. We commend Britt for coming forward now and hope that it encourages other victims to speak up so we can help put an end to such behavior.”
Former Orioles player Zack Britton, who was on that 2012 team, tweeted that reading the account made him sick.
Britton said: “I’m sorry this happened to you Britt. I’m sorry you didn’t feel comfortable telling anyone in the organization. It’s bs that any man would consider this acceptable behavior. We need to do better.”
The recounting of that incident before the Orioles’ 2012 playoff game against the Texas Rangers came as part of a reckoning in terms of the treatment of women in the game.
Porter, recently hired as the Mets general manager, was quickly fired after an ESPN story revealed unsolicited suggestive and graphic text messages he sent in 2016 to a female reporter.
Ghiroli, who covered the Orioles for MLB.com until the end of the 2018 season, first disclosed the incident on Jeff Pearlman’s podcast in 2019 and wrote about the incident in early 2020 as well.
“Every woman has a story, most of us have multiple stories, and all any of us truly want is to not stand out and constantly discuss how hard it is to be in this space,” Ghiroli wrote.
In recent years, the Orioles have publicly undertaken several initiatives to elevate women. In-season concerts often promote rising female singers, and there’s an exhibit on women’s suffrage and the 19th Amendment at Camden Yards. This year, the Orioles launched an empowerment series of panels to highlight women inside and outside the organization.
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The organization’s senior leadership team, installed after the 2019 season, features two women in senior vice president for community development and communications Jennifer Grondahl and senior vice president for human resources Lisa Tolson.