The New Haven Youth Baseball League had a problem: nine-year-old Jericho Scott was too good of a pitcher for the other kids. Their solution? Ban him from pitching. And when his coach sent him to the mound anyway, the league decided to disband his team. Parents protested, demanding that they let the little the junior Kelly Leak play, and as the AP reports, the whole thing has turned into a giant, litigious mess.
Parents of opposing teams say that Scott’s pitches are too dangerous for their kids, even though he hasn’t beaned anyone this season. I can feel his pain - I was told that I was “too dangerous” and asked to not play in my Little League anymore, but I vaguely remember something like “danger to myself and others” and “lack of motor skills” being used.
In their defense, the league has said that they have presented Scott’s family with several other options, including pitching against older players in a different league. But Scott’s mom tells a different tale: She says he is being punished because he turned down a chance to play for the defending league champions, who also happen to be sponsored by one of the employers of a league organizer.
This could be an example of parents taking a kids game too seriously, or trying to do the right thing and turning it into a fiasco. But I think the most likely answer is that the people of Connecticut hate baseball in all forms, starting with Wiffleball. Which explains why the UConn baseball team is forced to play all of their games barefoot on a field littered with broken glass and rusty nails.
The league lawyer (Little Leagues have lawyers now?) said that they took action because they run a “developmental league whose main purpose is to promote the sport.” And I say that’s exactly why they should let Scott pitch. Little League baseball is nothing but preparation for the rest of your life, and there’s no lesson in humility more powerful than hopelessly flailing at pitches after they’ve already hit the catcher’s mitt.
All things being equal, it could be worse: Hank Steinbrenner could be his manager. The poor kid’s arm likely would have fallen off, Joba Chamberlain-style, by halfway through the season.