Latino Little League Strikes Back

by Thomas MacMillan | August 27, 2008 8:15 AM | | Comments (16)

082708_JerichoScott-2.jpgThere’s more to the story than just a boy who pitches too fast. There’s also an overly competitive coach, an offer to move to a different league, and an angry mom who allegedly threatened physical violence.

That was the message from officials of a Fair Haven kids’ baseball league at a press conference in Criscuolo Park on Tuesday evening. They were responding to charges that have hit the national press and made them look like ogres picking on a little kid — and have made them the targets of a possible lawsuit filed by civil rights lawyer John Williams.

The reason? The league moved to prevent fastball ace Jericho Scott, who turns 10 today, from pitching. His fast ball was just too fast, said the league, and it was frightening the other players.

After the Register broke the story, it went viral on the internet after being picked up by the Associated Press and ESPN (Jericho even has a Wikipedia entry.) Guess who the villain was.

League officials from the three-year-old Liga Juvenil de Baseball de New Haven insisted at Tuesday night’s press conference that they’re not villains.

082708_JerichoScott-1.jpgLeague advisor and attorney Peter Noble (pictured at top of story) stood in front of a ranks of uniformed baseball players and their parents as he addressed a bank of television cameras. He said that while he has tremendous respect for John Williams’ years of service, “it would be a shame if he were remembered as the lawyer that sued this community and family.”

The League Argues the Call

The league’s side of the story is that after each of the three games that Jericho pitched for the Will Power Fitness team, parents and opposing coaches complained that his throws were too fast and were frightening the batters. The league decided that Jericho could not pitch anymore but offered to let him play other positions. They reportedly also offered to move Jericho up to the older players’ league,but his mother declined.

Then, “on August 20th, things escalated to an ugly point,” said Noble. “It was a very hostile environment, very unhealthy for players.”

What happened, according to the league, was that the Will Power Fitness coach Wilfred Vidro defied orders and started Jericho on the mound. League officials called the game, declaring that Will Power Fitness had defaulted. Will Power Fitness players and parents reportedly started chanting “losers.” The other team’s members were escorted to Carlito’s Barber Shop, “to insure their safety.”

“There was an incredible amount of taunting and threats,” said Noble.

Jericho’s mom, Nicole Scott, reportedly threatened the league with lawsuits and league officials with bodily harm. According to the league, Scott said, “This will be the last year. Once the lawyer is done they’re gonna eat shit and there ain’t gonna be a league next year.”

After the Aug. 20 incident, Vidro resigned, the Will Power Fitness team was disbanded, and its players were reassigned to other teams. Vidro and his assistant coaches were expelled from the league, as was Nicole Scott, but not Jericho.

Noble contended that the league was well within its rights to order Jericho not to pitch. He said repeatedly that the Liga Juvenil is an independent league, with no overseeing body, and it can make whatever rules it wishes. “The league decides how we’re going to develop the player,” he said.

082708_JerichoScott-3.jpgAfter the press conference, league play continued with a matchup of Universal Hair Studio versus Radio Amor.

The Lawyer Cries Foul

Reached by phone after the press conference, Attorney John Williams was skeptical of the league’s claims that Nicole Scott had been verbally abusive.

“I find that hard to believe,” he said. “That’s not consistent with anything I’ve seen.”

Williams also said that he had never heard that the league had offered to move Jericho up to play with older kids.

He said that he is going to argue that the league’s decision to prevent Jericho from pitching was a simple breach of contract. “They had an agreement with these kids, and they backed out of the deal,” he said.

“Fair play means to do the best they can,” he continued. “He [Jericho] did exactly that and got punished.”

Williams mentioned the possibility that Jericho had been prevented from pitching because he had not joined the Carlito’s Barber Shop team, which had been the previous year’s champions. He said that the coaching staff of the former champions had an outside business relationship with the league organizers.

Asked about the media attention that the situation has received, Williams said that it has been “Unbelievable. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Williams said that he had been fielding calls from talk shows all day: Dr Phil, Ellen Degeneres, Letterman. He said that Jericho was in New York on Tuesday night, catching a Yankees game and getting ready to appear on CBS’s morning show on Wednesday, where the speed of his pitches was to be checked by radar gun. Williams said that the radar gun should settle the question of just how fast and dangerous his pitching is.

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Posted by: Will | August 27, 2008 8:44 AM

My son was a great pitcher in PONY league. There was never any question about whether he should pitch in his age or not. He threw strikes, and could throw a lot harder than this young man at 10 years old. My son also hit 15 to 20 home runs a year. Would that also be an unfair advantage? Would a great hitter in your league be asked to not hit anymore? You people are stupid. Too bad the issue is clouded by the alleged behavior of the parents and team. My son is attending college today on a baseball scholarship. This is just another example of how excellence is punished in the country because of those that are unwilling to try to improve themselves so they can compete. I for one always wanted to play against the better pitchers. The only way to improve is to play against the better competition. If you always play down, then you will never improve.

Posted by: cat2000 | August 27, 2008 8:48 AM

Is this much different from what's been reported in the past--the kid is an able pitcher, so they don't want him to pitch? We are raising a crop of spoiled pansies.

Posted by: Walt [TypeKey Profile Page] | August 27, 2008 8:48 AM

If it is the kid's skill as a pitcher which caused his suspension, I agree it is a bad decision by the league, but, still, their right to make.

If the other kid's safety is threatened because of the excessive speed of the ball or erratic pitches by Jericho, they are right.

I managed a team of 9 year olds many years ago.The kids are beginners, not yet able to judge incoming balls very well. Their safety is paramount.

Perhaps the best solution is to move Jericho to a more experienced league where his skills could be better used, without such serious hazards for little trainees.

Posted by: robn | August 27, 2008 8:57 AM

I wish that everybody would cool it an remember the resons why they're playing the, health, achievement, teamwork...

Jericho is obviously a precocious athlete so do what leagues do....move him up!

Posted by: Webblog 1 | August 27, 2008 6:23 PM

What if they were hitting the hell out of Jericos fast ball, would they ask him to leave then, or more probable, sit him down as being ineffective.
What better way of teaching a kid to hit a fast ball, then have someone better pitching.

If the parents were to take their kid to the batting gage, he or she would learn not to be afraid of pitches of variable speeds.

What kind of coaches are these guys??

Posted by: Ridiculous | August 27, 2008 10:25 PM

So if a young hockey player hit the puck too hard then you have to move him to catcher? Or how about if a 12 quartback can throw too far, definitely move him to running back, better yet offensive line...the center maybe. And their defense is that the situation ESCALATED!! HA!! maybe if they let the little man just do what he had been trained to do it would never have escalated. I can't complain that someone socked me in the jaw if I taunted them into it. Little League RETARDS!! Bunch of baseball wanna-bes that can't handle the fact that that little kid has more talent than they ever thought about.

Posted by: Azazel | August 28, 2008 4:16 AM

This is truly an overblown issue stirred by over-competitive latino coaches, team sponsors, and misguided parents manipulating the issue to seem the victims.

How come the "coach" that seeks fair play for his players is photographed in Fox Sports News with self-made posters that proclaim his team's 8-0 standing? And if "how you play the game" is above winning or losing, why did the coach disobey the League's directive and not give a chance to another child to pitch a "winning" game (if he is a good coach)? Don't have a star pitcher?- create another one in your team! It seems warped that people have gone on the bandwagon of this kid's plight to keep pitching no-hitter games, yet what about the other kids in the team having a chance to do the same? I mean, why is this kid's esteem more important than the others? Seems hypocritical of both parents and kids of this team to support this notion and call it "fair play" through their attorney's mouthpice...

This is the reason people in the street complain about sports "stars", their egotism, and their attitudes within society. Because this is how the grooming starts and feeds this on: the "star pitcher" is more important than developing the team's skills as a whole. And the parents are assuring of this by stating elsewhere (in other reports) that they will [paraphrased] "sue to get the team assembled before the playoffs begin."

You cannot have it both ways- either praise this system and accept its ramifications or ban it altogether (like this league allegedly has). Nevertheless, neither side has the right to call this "justice for fair play".

Posted by: Azazel | August 28, 2008 4:25 AM

... And speaking of legal action, the issue could have be resolved without involving lawyers. Take the kid elsewhere (if he is that good); this is the United States -a free enterprise sovereignty- and there is more than one league to participate in (and as reported elsewhere, he is playing and pitching elsewhere, so he is not being denied of his "right" [sic] to play baseball).

Nevertheless, since a complaint is being formalized through the legal system, the breach of contract issue is totally baseless; a contract (or league agreement form) for little league would more likely be for a child to play baseball- not a skilled position like professional contracts. And if the parents lean on the paid monies to the league, the child played -pitched theirin!- within the team's eight games, and that is in contract law fulfillment of the agreement.

Again, the saddest point of this news story is that many in this nation do not recognize the implications of this "house-fight"; teaching kids and nurturing them is more important than even the sport itself- yet we all (including the children of this league) witness this making national headlines and headed for trial. So what kind of example do you suppose this whole mess of little league baseball is teaching us all then?

Posted by: coachr | August 28, 2008 9:22 AM

Everyone acts like it's no big deal the kid didn't want to move up. This is our problem here a kid shows just a hint of greatness and our first reaction is "he is too good for this league move him up" this goes for Baseball, Soccer, Basketball, football. What about the kids that want to have fun and play with their buddies. Chances are he will only have a coupe more years and the others will catch up. Then he will have to leave that group and go back down because he can't compete with the older kids anymore.

Get a life people and let the kids play!

Posted by: Andy | August 28, 2008 10:00 AM

Azazel, you must be one of the mom's that didn't want their little baby to strike out or something?? I am a board memeber of our local little league park, and what this league done is totally Crazy, NO WAY you tell a kid he can not pitch cause he is too good! sure you talk about how his mom acted, but wasn't he already banned from pitching Before she acted that way?? I would have been acting that way WHEN they told me that! I do agree that the only reason he can't pitch is because he did not join the previos league winners team! and the fact that there are a whole lot of moms in that league that needs to pop that Sugar-tit out of their kids mouth and make them get in the batters box and TRY, you will never be anything unless you actually TRY! stop babying these kids!

Posted by: AbsolutelyRidiculous | August 28, 2008 10:07 AM

This is to respond to AZAZEL's post. Your post suggests that Scott pitched all 8 winnings games. Do you realized he only pitched 3 of those games? Do some research before you making ignorant posts.

Bottom line is this was a political motivated move. Do you realize he refused to play on the last year's league champs team? And why wait til 8 games into the season to not allow him to pitch anymore. The reason is they didnt want that team to win the championship.

Just absolutely ridiculous. I hope they get their butt sued off for being stupid. Any by they way I would have went ballistic if they wouldnt let my kid pitch. You aint seen nothin.

Posted by: Baseball Guy from Minnesota | August 28, 2008 3:24 PM

The Youth Baseball League of New Haven is an embarrassment to youth sports. You say it's developmental league for beginners but the only thing you're "developing" are quitters. When the going gets tough...just quit right? Nobody is allowed to be better than you. Is that the message you're sending? What's next? Tiger Woods isn't allowed to play competitive golf anymore? Seriously, Mr. Noble is probably just pissed at the world because he was na outcast growing that always the last kid picked to play kickball or whatever. Now he's taking it out on a 9 year old who has done absolutely nothing wrong. I hope Jericho makes it to the big leagues some day and when the New Haven Youth League comes calling for a donation, he tells them get lost...

Posted by: Azazel | August 28, 2008 11:42 PM

Andy, do not assume who I am because you are off-base and wrong!

I am actually a father and a former college ballplayer who coached amateur league ball as recent as four years ago. So you are a little league board member? Congratulations to yourself, I am sure. I can tell by the response you posted and the vulgar words you choose to express yourself that you are indeed who you say you are.

So in response, I'll have you know that could care less about baseball, the Latino league in question, or the kid featured in this article. What I do care about is what I perceived from this story and my response- period.
Please show me anywhere where in my earlier post where I wrote that the kid should be banned from the league. Do re-read the post, as your reply fails to show comprehension. What I did vehemently express is how I view the issue at hand being manipulated by the adults involved in the story- the ones that caused the issue and now feel slighted after the fact.

And bringing up your "candid" suggestion for the kids in that league to (quote): "...pop the sugar-tits out of their mouths and make them get in the batters box and TRY..." (Must be your league motto and brochures), well, explain why the parents do not heed to the same and face-up to the league in a civil manner? TRY and resolve the issue with the same character it takes someone to face a fastball in the box, because "airing-out" dirty laundry in public shows weakness and does good to no one involved- unless you are trying to gain something else besides the issue at hand.

Posted by: Azazel | August 28, 2008 11:44 PM

Absolutelyridiculous, I did not suggest such thing. I think you need to team up with Andy and work on your comprehension skills too. "I do realized" he did not pitch all eight (8) games- it is not stated in this article, but I did read the Register's articles where it does state so.

When you write "...the child played...WITHIN the team's eight games...", the word WITHIN means inclusive, as in "anywhere from game No. 1 to game No. 8.- not total, as in "...the child played eight games". Maybe you should study your vocabulary and grammar before making ignorant posts!

Posted by: Amused | August 29, 2008 12:16 AM

Oh, AZAZEL (sigh).

Your blatantly bigoted self-righteousness and poor command of spelling, grammar and law are all staggeringly transparent.

Or maybe I'm just an overzealous asian unable to instantly create star players whilst obliging the ignorant administrators of the league "theirin" [sic].

Never let the facts (or spell check, or contract law) get in the way of a good rant :-)

Posted by: Azazel | August 29, 2008 9:49 AM


No, I did not use the spell-checker when I posted the other night and realized this after the fact.

But regarding your second paragraph, that is correct: a coach's job is to develop a balanced team and raise the potential of the players under his care, not to tend and rely on a sole individual (it is a team sport). If you cannot do this regardless of circumstances, then you should steer away from coaching and concentrate on blogging in news forums.

And being of Hispanic/Latino ethnicity, I will freely continue to use "bigoted" comments so long as the comments apply to the Hispanic/Latino that has earned them.

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