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Coach inducted into hall of fame, fired

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Over the weekend, the Kentucky Baseball Coaches Association inducted Herb Hammond into its hall of fame. You’ll find his bust in the unemployed wing. About a week before his induction, Hammond was fired after 17 years and 414 wins in Henry Clay High School in Lexington.

Hammond officially was fired for illegal recruiting, but it also appears his sin was picking a fight with a big swinging dick in Lexington (not John Calipari) who knew his way around a rule book. Hammond ended up in a fight with Bill Hurt, whose father was Henry Clay’s longtime principal, and who is an attorney of some note in the area.

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

Hammond said he lost his job because a “disgruntled parent” accused him of trying to recruit his son back to Henry Clay after he had transferred to Lexington Catholic last summer.

But Don Adkins, who oversees athletics for Fayette County’s public schools, said there was “substantial evidence” against Hammond, including incriminating e-mail messages, and that “the termination of his coaching duties was in a fair manner.” …

Bill Hurt, a Lexington attorney, is the parent who accused Hammond of recruiting.

Hurt’s son, Will, was Henry Clay’s starting shortstop and pitched some as a freshman last year.

A rift developed between Hammond and Bill Hurt last season over what teams Will could play for during the summer. It culminated with the Hurts moving across town and Will transferring to Lexington Catholic.

On Hurt’s transfer papers, Henry Clay noted an objection, saying that Hurt was switching schools for athletic purposes, which led the [Kentucky High School Athletic Association] to initially rule him ineligible for his sophomore season at Lexington Catholic.

The Hurts appealed that ruling.

Before a hearing officer upheld the KHSAA’s ruling, Hammond and Bill Hurt exchanged e-mail messages that led to the recruiting allegation.

Specifically, before the Kentucky authorities ruled on the appeal Hammond e-mailed Hurt that he wanted to “get things right” so his on wouldn’t have to sit out a year because of “adult disagreements.” Hammond didn’t say exactly what he meant, and according to the Herald-Leader, Hurt thought Hammond meant that Henry Clay would drop its objection and let his son play at Lexington Catholic. So far, it looks like a coach who made a mistake of getting all man-to-man, let’s-forget-the-rules to a lawyer, and maybe some misinterpretation, but nothing fireable.

But then Hammond e-mailed Hurt a scenario detailing how his son could come back to Henry Clay and play as a sophomore, despite being banned for a year. Hurt accused Hammond of recruiting his son in violation of KHSAA rules. Then, just to prove how stupid he could possibly be, Hammond also e-mailed Lexington Catholic’s coach to tell him not to play Will Hurt as a sophomore, calling it a “dignity check” on that program. Pissed beyond belief, and with an attorney’s eye toward rules, Hurt decided to squawk that Hammond illegally worked out players during a so-called “dead” period where he was supposed to have no contact. (Hammond said he attended one summer game, but that was it.)

The school district then fired Hammond, and dropped its objection to Will Hurt’s transfer. He can play this spring as a sophomore.

No word on whether Hammond’s hall of fame induction speech was more bitter than Michael Jordan’s.