American Legion officials have players recite the Legion anthem before every game. Maybe it is the parents and coaches that should be reciting the anthem because over the past week, some of them have not been too sportsmanlike.
Last week, the game I was covering between Sheridan and Hot Springs Village was ended due to a forfeit. Hot Springs Village had a pitcher start warming up who would be making his fourth appearance in three days, which was against the Legion rules.
Even though the pitcher had not thrown a pitch, the Legion official ruled that since he took the mound, that classified as a violation of the rule. Hot Springs Village coach Justin Gregory was not happy about the ruling, and the Hot Springs Village fans and parents felt about the same way.
I am not here to say which side is right. I do know if the tournament director, Mike Moore, had not told Gregory, the pitcher would have thrown an actual pitch in the game. However, Gregory pulled the pitcher, Chase Anderson, during his warm-up and brought in a different pitcher. So Gregory was actually helped and told his mistake.
Plus Legion officials told all of the coaches before every game about the innings and appearance limit during the tournament. Officials were keeping track of the appearances and a few coaches came to the press box to check on the rules and how much their pitchers had thrown.
So Gregory had no one to blame but himself, but the Hot Springs Village parents felt otherwise. It did not take long for the officials to come off the field when a couple of parents and fans decided to tell them how wrong the decision was and that Sheridan was just getting their way.
After trailing for much of the game, Sheridan took a 7-6 lead in the seventh inning, and that is when the pitching change occurred, which led to the forfeit.
That just gave the Hot Springs Village fans some else to be upset about it and to take out on the officials. Moore wasted little time, though, in calling the cops to make sure the peace was kept. Once Moore said that and reached for his phone, one Hot Springs Village person wasted little time in going to his car and leaving.
This was not the only act that took place. Apparently after Sheridan’s game with Texarkana, the Texarkana coaches decided to confront the umpires after the game to tell them how bad of a job they did.
The strange thing was that not only did Texarkana win the game 8-3, but it was the zone championship. Because of the choice words the coaches had for the umpires, they were suspended for the state tournament that is going on right now in Sheridan.
Neither party had any room to really argue the call. Moore saved Gregory and Texarkana won its game. Also, Hot Springs Village appealed the decision and won, but Gregory did not have his team ready to play, so he conceded the game, which was a classy act, but does not fully make up for the parents and fans forcing Moore’s hand on calling the cops.
This is a Junior Legion tournament. These kids are not playing for scholarships here. They might just be auditioning for a spot on the high school team next year. This is not life or death, so the parents and coaches that are taking this like Game 7 of the World Series need to hold their temper, or else their kids are only going to repeat their ugly actions.
Justin Rust is a sports writer for The Commercial. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.