In This Youth Baseball League, Fans Who Mistreat Umpires Are Sentenced to Do the Job Themselves
DEPTFORD, N.J. (AP) Back in Mudville, when mighty Casey took an unheeded pitch for a strike, there went up a muffled roar: `Kill him! Kill the umpire!' shouted someone on the stand."
Even in 1888, well before pitch clocks, $17 beers and instant replay, a common thread for the fans in baseball's most epic poem was how much they loved to threaten umpires.
These days, 135 or so years after writer Ernest Lawrence Thayer's renowned verse, one Little League in New Jersey is taking a hands-on approach. Its target: those watching 10- and 11-year-olds play baseball who curse at the volunteers behind the plate.
You want some of this? they're saying. Well, come get some. In Deptford, the umpire recruiting slogan sign may as well read: If you cant berate them, join them.
The April Facebook post hardly seemed like national news at the time for league president Don Bozzuffi. He'd lost patience when two umpires resigned after persistent spectator abuse. So he wrote an updated code of conduct.
It specified: Any spectator deemed in violation would be banned from the complex until three umpiring assignments were completed. If not, the person would be barred from any Deptford youth sports facilities for a year.