Regular readers of this page probably know that politics are played as a blood sport in the town of Ballston. So, apparently, is the game of baseball.
A story in Friday’s Gazette told little of the ugly brawl that apparently broke out at the conclusion of the June 20 game between the Ballston Bearcats and Northeast Hurricanes — in a league for teenagers 15 years old and younger.
That’s because league officials have clammed up about what happened since the Times Union and various TV news outlets reported in early July what took place at the game when one of the Ballston players, with his team trailing 11-0 in the last inning, bowled over the opposing catcher with what would have been his team’s first run.
Aggressive base-running and collisions of this sort may be part of the game, but the league has a no-contact rule. So Ump John Freeman called the runner out and threw him out of the game — as he should have. Then all hell broke loose, with Eric Thompson, the Bearcats’ coach and president of the Ballston Spa Junior Baseball League, reportedly storming out of the dugout, getting in Freeman’s face and shouting numerous obscenities at him. What a great example to set for the kids.
According to the earlier stories, Thompson and some of his players’ parents then followed Freeman to his car, showering him with more obscenities, and one of the parents allegedly tackled and kicked him.
The Ballston Spa Junior Baseball League doesn’t want to say much about what happened now — only that Thompson resigned after a “confrontation” with the ump, that the league doesn’t tolerate any “negative behavior,” and it is “hopeful the situation will be resolved without any further effects on the hundreds of children we represent.”
To accomplish this, the league is going to have to do better. It’s hard to fathom a more despicable display at any level of sport, much less one where the players are such impressionable youngsters.
Rather than attempt to downplay what happened, the league needs to confront it head-on, making sure players, coaches and parents — many of whom reportedly supported the coach during his tirade — know not just that that such behavior won’t be tolerated, but that it is wrong.
As for the parent who allegedly assaulted Freeman, it is unfortunate that authorities are willing to give him a pass.