Dempsey sorry for domestic violence joke

Updated: May 9, 2007, 11:21 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

BALTIMORE -- Rick Dempsey is apologizing for attempting to crack a joke about domestic violence on the air during a telecast of a Baltimore Orioles game on Saturday.

Rick Dempsey
AP PhotoRick Dempsey, seen here entertaining fans at Fenway Park during a rainout in 1980, was trying to be funny when he made a quip about domestic violence during an Orioles telecast. He has apologized.
Dempsey, a former Orioles catcher and coach who usually hosts the team's pre-game and post-game shows on Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, was making his first appearance of the season in the broadcast booth during the Orioles' game against the Cleveland Indians.

During the third inning, Dempsey and play-by-play man Gary Thorne were joined in the booth by Laura Giuliani, the wife of Orioles left fielder Jay Gibbons. Giuliani was promoting a fundraiser the next day intended to help fight domestic violence.

Gibbons is hitting .213 as of Wednesday, and Dempsey tried to put Gibbons' slump at the plate together with his wife's charity.

"Laura, will this kind of help Jay in the domestic violence area? If he doesn't start getting a few more hits, you might grab him around the neck and rough him up a little bit," Dempsey said, according to The Baltimore Sun. "[Is] this money going to go to help him a little bit with maybe some of the hospital bills or something like that?"

To that, Giuliani replied, "I don't know, Rick. I don't think I'm encouraging that. I'm definitely not ..."

"Not going there?" Dempsey interjected.

"Not going there," Giuliani replied.

"All right, I'll domestically violate him if he doesn't start getting some more hits," Dempsey said, according to The Sun.

On Tuesday, Dempsey, who was known for his sense of humor during his playing days and entertained fans during rain delays by sliding around on the wet infield tarp, apologized for the wisecrack.

"I certainly didn't mean to offend anyone with my comments," Dempsey said, according to The Sun. "I was trying to bring some levity to the fact that Jay hasn't been hitting as well as he wanted to. ... It is a serious issue, and I didn't mean to make a joke about that at all."

The network said Dempsey would not be punished. "He regrets what he said, and we have no doubt he feels badly about the remark," MASN spokesman Todd Webster said, according to the newspaper.

"I just think he spoke before he thought in that instance," Gibbons told The Sun. "It's a very touchy subject. My wife went there to help these people out. He really can't make light of the situation. She was a little upset about it, but I explained to her that 'I am sure Rick didn't mean anything by it, and he made a mistake.'"

It's the second time this season that the Orioles' broadcast team has found itself in the middle of controversy. Earlier this season, Thorne set off a firestorm by saying he'd been told by Boston Red Sox catcher Doug Mirabelli that Curt Schilling's famous bloody sock from the 2004 playoffs was paint, not blood. Mirabelli flatly denied saying that, and Thorne later explained he had misunderstood Mirabelli.