Umpires are off limits. That's the message the Tyler Police Department hopes to send. They have charged two baseball coaches with disorderly conduct, in connection with their role in a brawl at a boys' baseball game last Saturday. Home video shot at the game clearly shows the violence that played out in front of dozens of young ballplayers. But who's at fault is not so clear for some of those involved. It's between innings of a Superstars and Heroes baseball game last Saturday at Faulkner park in Tyler. Four minutes remain in a timed ball game. The Troup Braves are about to bat, leading the Bullard Warriors 12-4. Bullard's coaches have been frustrated with the umpires all game. A heated argument builds between Bullard's head coach and the home plate umpire. The home plate umpire calls the game. The first base umpire comes over and calls the Bullard coaches "crybabies". The coaches grab the umpire. He reacts by punching one of the coaches in the face. One of the coaches comes at the umpire again. The umpire punches him again. It took several minutes to get things back under control.
"That crosses the line right there," said Troup coach Stanley Chick. He had a front row seat to witness the action, and actually helped break up the fight. He was disgusted with the way the Bullard coaches conducted themselves, but his thoughts on the issue don't stop there.
"You know, it was a bad situation," said Chick. "I blame both of these coaches for starting it all, and I blame the umpire for finishing it by hitting people. That ain't going to work. To me, he should never umpire again."
That is not necessarily how the parents in attendance saw it. Their outraged voices were quite evident on the tape, with screams to stop it, and "you should be ashamed of yourself", and "don't you have any kids?"
"Once we saw the video ourselves, it was pretty clear what happened," said Lt. Tom Giorgio of the Tyler Police Department. They had little trouble charging both Bullard Coaches with a Class C misdemeanor.
"It looks bad because he (the ump) hit the guy and knocked the guy down," said Giorgio, "but if he doesn't do that, those guys are choking him, grabbing him, knocking him down those big guys. And so what happens to him if he doesn't do that? We need to let them know, that we won't tolerate it, and nobody else should either. It's wrong, and there are penalties to be faced for it."
The disorderly conduct charges given to the coaches are punishable by up to a $500 fine. Their actions came very close to falling under guidelines of a new Texas law that would have drastically increased their punishment. Regardless, they are no longer allowed to participate in the Superstars and Heroes League.