Phil Regan sued the New York Mets and former general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, alleging age discrimination and wrongful termination when he was moved out as pitching coach after the 2019 season.
Regan, a former big league pitcher who turns 86 in April, also claimed harassment and hostile work environment in a complaint filed Monday in New York Supreme Court in Queens.
"Phil came into an underperforming pitching staff and immediately righted the ship," his lawyer, Matthew J. Blit, said in a statement Tuesday. "He helped lower the team ERA and brought the staff back to where it was supposed to be. Instead of rewarding him for his masterful performance he was tossed aside because of his age."
Regan was 96-81 with a 3.84 ERA for Detroit, the Chicago Cubs and White Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1960-72 and was an All-Star in 1966. He managed the Baltimore Orioles to a 71-73 record and third-place finish in the AL East during the strike-shortened 1995 season.
He joined the Mets organization as pitching coach of Class A St. Lucie in 2009 and became minor league pitching coordinator in 2016.
New York fired pitching coach Dave Eiland on June 20, 2019, when the team was fourth in the NL East at 35-39 with a big league-high 16 blown saves and a 4.67 ERA, 20th among the 30 big league clubs. Regan became interim pitching coach, and the Mets lowered their ERA to 4.24 by the end of the season.
Regan was replaced on Dec. 8 by Jeremy Hefner, who was 33 at the time and still holds the job. Regan claimed in the suit the Mets offered him a minor league contract at reduced terms. Regan was listed last season as senior adviser, pitching development.
"BVW specifically informed Mr. Regan that he wasn't being retained because of his age," the suit said, referring to Van Wagenen by his initials.
The Mets declined comment and Van Wagenen, who was fired when Steve Cohen bought the team in November 2020, said he deferred to the team for any comment.
Regan's suit contends the team "has further harassed and discriminated" against him by "further decreases in salary, further denials of opportunities which he deserved, and even a reduction in housing allowance."
"Suing for discrimination in professional sports is extremely rare," Blit told TMZ Sports. "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."
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.