A Taunton umpire association is deciding how to move forward after three of its members were heckled and allegedly threatened during a Little League game on Monday.
Dominic Damiano, president of the Greater Taunton Amateur Baseball Umpire Association, said the group has been in talks with the Taunton West Little League president and board members about the ugly episode, in which fans reportedly yelled obscenities at the umpires and followed them to their cars after the game.
Most of the baseball players were 11 or 12 years old, Damiano said.
Damiano said that after he found out about the confrontation, he chose to cancel all the games “until the situation gets resolved.” On Friday, both sides met with Taunton Mayor Shaunna O’Connell, he said.
“She was the mediator,” Damiano said.
The umpires planned to hold an “emergency meeting” on Friday evening, Damiano said.
Damiano said the confrontation began when the umpires made a call toward the end of a game, which prompted heckling from the crowd. The coaches also began to argue with the officials.
“The parents started dropping colorful metaphors, ‘Gonna kick you in the you-know-what,’ and stuff like that,” Damiano said.
After the game, the umpires walked to the concession stand to pick up their stipends.
“The parents are still in their faces,” Damiano said. “And then, three men follow them to their cars and threaten bodily harm, saying, you know, ‘I hope you enjoy all of the money you make,’ ‘You’re a joke,’ and all this profanity. Basically threatening their lives.”
In a statement, Taunton West Little League President Tyler Doehler described the confrontation as an “isolated incident.”
“We want to emphasize that this behavior is absolutely unacceptable and does not represent the values and standards we uphold,” Doehler said. “As a league, we take this matter very seriously. ... We want to ensure that our little league remains a safe and inclusive environment for everyone involved.”
All parties involved were suspended, Doehler said.
Damiano said a coach was suspended for 60 days and the parents involved “will be permanently banned from the park.”
Under a proposed agreement between the league and umpires, protocols will be put in place to “make sure nothing gets out of hand” at future games, Damiano said.
The umpire association has 48 members who are eager to get back to work, he said.
But first, the league must “hold these people accountable,” he said.
“What happened should have never happened,” he said. “I can’t put my guys in a hostile environment.”
The league wants to remedy the situation with the umpires, Doehler said.
“We have made every effort to address the situation to the satisfaction of the umpires’ union by suspending the involved parties, offering to play games without spectators, and even paying for a police detail for added security,” he said.
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