Florida judge rules against team that was in, then out, of tournament
An update on “When Keeping the Rules Real Goes Wrong.”
Citing bylaws that give the league’s national commissioner the final say in disputes, [Hernando County Judge Kurt Hitzemann] judge on Wednesday rejected a Spring Hill team’s request to reverse the [Dixie Youth Baseball League] commissioner’s July 3 ruling and allow it to play in this weekend’s state tournament.
“What happened here is very unfortunate and sad,” he said later, “but according to these bylaws, the commissioner can do what he wants to do. He can decide what the rules mean.”
Nearly 30 supporters, including some of the 11- and 12-year-old boys on the Spring Hill National Triple-A Majors All Stars, attended the hearing. They all left disappointed.
The controversy, which has drawn attention from national media, stems from a game on June 30 between Spring Hill and a team from South Lake.
That night, a player for South Lake hit a go-ahead home run in the top of the final inning, but failed to touch home plate and was ruled out by an umpire. After a lengthy debate involving officials from the Dixie Youth Baseball organization, the umpire’s ruling stood. The Spring Hill squad won that game in extra innings.
Three days later, Wes Skelton, the league’s national commissioner, awarded the game to South Lake, saying they had been denied an opportunity to appeal the decision on the night of the game.
Claiming that being barred from the state tournament would cause “irreparable harm” to the boys on the team, the Spring Hill squad asked Hitzemann to allow them to play in the upcoming [12-team state] tournament.
Young Hunter Cowers, who hit the home run that started this mess, is now his generation’s George Brett, at least in terms of controversy-causing taters. Maybe the judge should have done this: ordered the game to be replayed from the point the home run was hit. And then the Spring Hill manager could have played everyone out of position as a protest.