Police Investigating Video Showing Tuscaloosa Youth Baseball Coach Brawl With Umpire During Tournament
Police are investigating after a Tuscaloosa youth baseball coach was videoed brawling with an umpire during a children's tournament in Shelby County last weekend.
The clip, uploaded to Facebook Saturday, shows young players fleeing the field and adults rushing to the pitcher's mound after a coach and one of the umpires calling the game fall to the dirt during an altercation.
The uploader of the video said the man in the fight is a coach of the DC Patriots baseball team for children under 11 years old, which is based here in Tuscaloosa.
The Mother's Day Tournament was held at Eagle Park in Calera Saturday morning and afternoon. The Patriots entered the competition as the No. 1 Seed and ultimately beat the Vestavia Natruals and the Birmingham Giants to win the six-team tournament.
Seth Gandy, the Parks and Recreation Director for the city of Calera, confirmed that the coach in the video was associated with the DC Patriots, but said he did not have the individual's name.
Gandy said responding to the fight is complicated by a few factors -- the tournament was organized by Grand Slam Sports Tournaments, not the city of Calera, and it was tournament organizers who reportedly decided to allow everyone involved in the dust-up to remain in the park and continue participating in the tournament.
Gandy said the city's own response will be less forgiving.
"The mayor and council are backing me in saying that once all this works out, the individual in that video will be banned from visiting our parks ever again," Gandy said. "We have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to violence in our local league and it should be the same for people who visit our parks for tournaments. We run a family-friendly park and we plan to stay that way."
The Thread spoke to Calera Chief of Police David Hyche Tuesday afternoon, who said officers were not called to the scene of the brawl Saturday and his department only became aware of the situation Monday when videos began to circulate.
He said at this time, no charges have been filed but an investigator has been assigned to the case and will be reviewing videos, collecting statements and gathering other evidence before turning those findings over to the district attorney's office. The DA could then present the body of evidence to a grand jury to determine if criminal charges are warranted.
UPDATE, 5:15 p.m. TUESDAY
Darren Bright, Grand Slam's co-director of baseball in Alabama, called the Thread Tuesday afternoon for a lengthy conversation about the Saturday altercation.
Bright said to avoid playing any games on Mother's Day Sunday, Grand Slam was running several simultaneous between 84 teams on 28 fields all day Saturday. He said this spread thin their resources at each individual game, but also noted the organization drew 2,000 people to the park that day and this was the only significant incident that occurred -- and the only one he can remember in eight years in this role.
Bright said he and other leaders at Grand Slam have been reviewing the incident for the last three days and have handed down "severe, lengthy" penalties to both the coach and the umpire involved in the altercation Saturday.
Even so, he took care to not overly condemn either man for what he called a wrestling match at best between "two guys who made mistakes."
"This was unacceptable, and we absolutely do not condone what happened Saturday, but we don't want this coach or our umpire who was involved to be defined as people by this mistake," Bright said.
He also said the organization does not plan to strip the DC Patriots of their individual or tournament victories because of what happened.
"We are not going to penalize 11-year-old kids for two adults who lost their faculties," Bright said. "There are no plans to strip the kids of their wins because it's not the kids' fault."
For updates on this situation as they become available, stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread.
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