Baseball brouhaha goes into extra innings
This is a shame, to be punished for being too good!
NEW HAVEN — Parents are angry. There are lawyers involved. Conflicting and wild accusations are flying. The adults are fighting over the kids.
Sounds like a nasty divorce, but it’s actually a fight between a youth baseball league, one of its coaches and some parents.
“The spirit of the league was community, family, well being, nurturing. It’s an extended family and it’s been disrupted,” said attorney Peter Noble, who represents Liga Juvenil De Baseball De New Haven, Spanish for Youth Baseball League of New Haven. The league is not affiliated with Little League baseball.
The fighting started this week when Coach Wilfred Vidro refused a directive by league officials to replace 9-year-old pitcher Jericho Scott, whose pitching they say is so hard, fast and accurate that it might frighten or discourage other players.
Despite being told by league officials that there would be no game Saturday morning at Criscuolo Park, Vidro, who refuses to leave the league and his team, which refuses to disband, showed up ready to play.
Parents posted brightly-colored signs and many wore handpainted T-shirts with sayings such as, “Let’s be fair, it’s all about the kids,” “They’re only kids,” and “Let Jericho Pitch.”
Jericho’s parents, Leroy and Nicole Scott, said Saturday they just want their son and his team to be given the right to continue their winning season, 8-0 so far, and go to the playoffs.
And they are already talking with a prominent New Haven lawyer to help get the team there.
Attorney John Williams will meet with the Scotts Monday, but had already heard enough from them by Saturday to proclaim, “Holy smoke!”
“You don’t have to be learned in the law to know in your heart that it’s wrong (removing Jericho as pitcher),” Williams said. “Now you have to be punished because you excel at something?”
Jericho, who said Saturday he was “sad” because there was no baseball game, practiced with his teammates, his drive to throw hard and fast apparently unaffected by the controversy.
Noble said they cancelled the game for fear the adults bickering would create an “unhealthy environment.”
“We didn’t want an escalation of the kind of tumultuous behavior caused by the coaching staff,” he said.
Nicole Scott said Jericho feels it’s his fault the team can’t play.
“I told him things like this happen in life and the message is, ‘Don’t give up, stay focused and be positive,’” she said.
She said league officials came to their house about five months ago to recruit Jericho, who also plays in another league.
Officials wanted him for a stronger team because of his pitching talent, but the Scotts wanted him to stay grounded and help a less experienced team succeed, she said.
“I said, ‘This is not always going to happen in life — you’re not always going to be number one,’” she said.
Leroy Scott said he threw the ball a lot with Jericho since he was young, but that Jericho is a talented natural athlete and shouldn’t be penalized because he applies himself.
“If you keep these kids on the field you keep them off the streets,” Leroy Scott said. “I’d rather have him (Jericho) in the midst of this controversy on the field than dealing drugs on a street corner.”
Coach Vidro and the Scotts claim the real reason league authorities want Jericho on a team other than Vidro’s Wilpower Fitness is because they have a vested interested in another team that is second in the standings and can’t get to number one past Jericho’s winning arm.