MLB satisfied with Padres' response to chorus mishap

'Saturday's regrettable situation was a product of human error'

Major League Baseball completed its investigation into the Padres' handling of the national anthem Saturday night at Petco Park, concluding "that Saturday's regrettable situation was a product of human error."

As a result of the findings, Padres president Mike Dee announced that the club had reinstated Art Romero, known as DJ ArtForm, whose mishap led to a woman's voice being played over the speaker system instead of the San Diego Gay Men's Chorus.

"The Padres wish to thank Major League Baseball for its work this week, and are pleased that its findings confirm the facts that we discovered during our own internal investigation," Dee said in a statement. "As we have done this week, we will continue to work with San Diego's LGBT community to strengthen and expand the club's relationship with them."

Before Saturday's game against the Dodgers -- which was Pride Night at Petco Park -- approximately 100 members of the chorus were slated to perform "The Star-Spangled Banner." Following the incident, the chorus called upon the Padres and MLB to investigate the motives for the incident and discern whether there was any malicious intent.

Both investigations concluded that the incident was simply a technical mistake, resulting from human error. Essentially, the wrong music had been queued up, and Romero made the decision to continue playing the recorded version of the anthem, instead of stopping it. In a press conference held at Petco Park on Thursday afternoon, Dee said he's confident in his gameday operations team, but that "in baseball terms, they went 0-for-5 that night."

"We've obviously examined our protocol to make sure that we've taken every step possible within that control room to make sure that we have checks and balances," Dee said. "Sometimes human errors occur. DJ Art Romero in this case has come out and said that it was his bad. In that moment, having to make a decision -- Go? Stop? -- things could have been done differently. And that's where we feel terrible."

In total, MLB's Department of Investigations conducted 12 interviews with people involved in the situation, coming to the following conclusion: "The employees involved had no malicious intentions and, in fact, universally relayed contrition for how the incident unfolded."

"MLB received the full cooperation of Padres management, which expressed its deepest apologies," the statement said. "MLB believes that the Padres' efforts to remedy the situation, including its invitation to the Chorus to return to a future game to perform the national anthem, are appropriate and has every expectation that the club's longstanding record of inclusion will be evident in the future."

Members of the Gay Men's Chorus have performed the national anthem before games in the past, and as the statement implied, they have also been invited to perform at Petco Park in the future. It remains unclear whether they will accept that invitation. Dee said he and other members of the Padres' organization have offered to sing with the group to show their support -- "at the risk of taking a very professional group that sounds terrific and making them sound not as terrific."

Dee and other members of the Padres' organization spent time meeting with chorus director Bob Lehman and San Diego Pride director Stephen Whitburn this week. Both praised the Padres' efforts in the wake of the mishap and were content with the findings of both investigations.

"The chorus is very happy with the outcome of Major League Baseball's findings," Lehman said. "We know a lot of good things have already come out of this with our meetings with Mike and the team, and we're really excited about the future. We're also excited about the message that Major League Baseball investigating this will send out -- that they take this seriously and that all professional sports should use this as an example of how sports teams should engage with the LGBT community."

Among the details unveiled in the investigation was the fact that the Padres' lead entertainment supervisor was involved in a car accident the night before the game and was unable to work Saturday. According to MLB, "employees involved in the matter were handling new duties with which they were insufficiently familiar."

As for Romero, Dee said he will not be given the same responsibilities immediately.

"He's going to have to earn his way back into that role," Dee said.

Romero has been rehired as an independent contractor. A long-time Padres employee was also disciplined, but Dee wouldn't go into those specifics.

More than anything, Dee said his meetings with the chorus and Pride during the past week have been constructive for the Padres.

"We'll grow as an organization from this, without question," Dee said. "And not because of what happened, but because of what's happened since."

Whitburn says he's already seen that in action.

"They have taken a difficult situation and used it to create a stronger relationship with the LGBT community and to re-emphasize their commitment to inclusion," Whitburn said. "I think our entire city, including the LGBT community, can be proud of how the San Diego Padres have handled this."

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.