August 27, 2008
Debate Erupts After Boy’s Pitches Deemed Too Fast
By John Christoffersen
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Nine-year-old Jericho Scott is a good baseball player - too good, it turns out.The right-hander has a fastball that tops out at about 40 mph. He throws so hard that the Youth Baseball League of New Haven told his coach that the boy could not pitch any more. When Jericho took the mound anyway last week, the opposing team forfeited the game, packed its gear and left, his coach said.
Officials for the three-year-old league, which has eight teams and about 100 players, said they will disband Jericho's team, redistributing its players among other squads, and offered to refund $50 sign-up fees to anyone who asks. They said Jericho's coach, Wilfred Vidro, has resigned.
But Vidro said he didn't quit and the team refuses to disband. Players and parents held a protest at the league's field Saturday, urging the league to let Jericho pitch.
"He's never hurt anyone," Vidro said. "He's on target all the time. How can you punish a kid for being too good?"
The controversy bothers Jericho, who said he misses pitching.
"I feel sad," he said. "I feel like it's all my fault nobody could play."
Jericho's coach and parents said the boy is being unfairly targeted because he turned down an invitation to join the defending league champion, which is sponsored by an employer of one of the league's administrators.
Jericho instead joined a team sponsored by Will Power Fitness.
The team was 8-0 and on its way to the playoffs when Jericho was banned from pitching.
"I think it's discouraging when you're telling a 9-year-old you're too good at something," said his mother, Nicole Scott. "The whole objective in life is to find something you're good at and stick with it. I'd rather he spend all his time on the baseball field than idolizing someone standing on the street corner."
League attorney Peter Noble said the only factor in banning Jericho from the mound is his pitches are just too fast.
"He is a very skilled player, a very hard thrower," Noble said. "There are a lot of beginners. This is not a high-powered league. This is a developmental league whose main purpose is to promote the sport."
League officials said they first told Vidro the boy could not pitch after a game Aug. 13. Jericho played second base at the next game Aug. 16, but when he took the mound Wednesday, the other team walked off and a forfeit was called.
League officials said Jericho's mother became irate, threatening them and vowing to get the league shut down.
"I have never seen behavior of a parent like the behavior Jericho's mother exhibited Wednesday night," Noble said.
Scott denied threatening anyone but said she did call the police.
League officials suggested that Jericho play other positions or pitch against older players or in a different league. Local attorney John Williams was planning to meet with Jericho's parents Monday to discuss legal options.
"You don't have to be learned in the law to know in your heart that it's wrong," he said. "Now you have to be punished because you excel at something?"
Originally published by John Christoffersen Associated Press.
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