It was a long day and night for Burbank baseball Coach Leonard Haynes last Tuesday.
“That night I felt as bad as I have ever felt in 15 years of coaching,” Haynes said.
Here’s why Haynes was so downcast:
His team held a 3-1 lead over Alhambra at home going into the seventh inning. After the first two Alhambra batters got on base, Burbank pitcher Bryan Chandler was called for a balk.
Haynes went to the mound to discuss the call with umpire Chris Whitbeck.
What happened next? It depends on whose version of the story you believe.
What is certain is that Whitbeck ejected Haynes and forfeited the game to Alhambra.
The next day, officials from Burbank contacted officials at Alhambra and asked to resume the game from the moment of Haynes’ ejection. The teams were scheduled to play again Friday at Alhambra.
Burbank held on for a 3-2 win Friday, then went on to lose the regularly scheduled game, 4-3.
That kind of double-header split was as strange as what happened in the seventh inning on Tuesday.
Haynes and Whitbeck had had no problems with each other throughout the game--and both agreed that Chandler had balked.
Said Whitbeck: “The rule says when a pitcher takes a sign and his feet are in a set position, the ball shall be in his gloved hand or pitching hand, and his pitching hand shall be down at the side or behind his back.
“What (Chandler) did was when he took the sign and went to the set position, he had the ball in front of his body. I called the balk right away.”
According to Haynes, this is what happened:
After the balk, Haynes went to the mound to ask Whitbeck what the call was.
Haynes admitted Chandler was holding the ball in front of his body, but wondered why Whitbeck had waited until the seventh inning to make the call.
“I wasn’t upset at all,” Haynes said, adding that he was not hostile while conversing with Whitbeck.
“As we were walking back to the dugout,” Haynes said, “He says to me, ‘Your problem is that you don’t know the rules.”’
Haynes said he replied in a quiet voice, “We might not be seeing a lot of you next year.”
Whitbeck then kicked Haynes out and added, “That’s it, the game is forfeited.”
“I asked him how he could kick me out for something like that,” the coach said. “He said, ‘You can’t talk to me like that.”’
If a coach is thrown out and there is no assistant coach or administrator there, the game can be called, Haynes said. Haynes does not have an assistant coach on the varsity team.
But he did have the Burbank principal and vice principal in the stands. Haynes asked Whitbeck if either of them could finish the game as coach.
Haynes: “He said, ‘No, they’re not coaches.”’
While the Burbank players stood around in amazement, the Alhambra players sped home.
“They ran to the bus and were gone in five minutes,” Haynes said.
Haynes, meanwhile, followed as Whitbeck went to his car. The coach kept pleading his case, but to no avail.
“He just climbed in the car and drove away,” Haynes said.
Haynes said he did not raise his voice to Whitbeck until after his ejection and did not cuss.
Whitbeck agreed Haynes did not swear at him. But his account of the afternoon goes like this:
After calling the balk, Whitbeck went to the mound to explain the situation to the pitcher. Whitbeck said it was the first time all day he had detected Chandler balking.
Haynes came out and wanted to find out what was going on.
“He was sarcastic and abusive,” Whitbeck said. “He said sarcastically, ‘Well, what is the set position?’ He knows baseball. He knows what the difference between a windup and the set position is.”
Haynes then filed a protest over the balk call.
“As I walked back to the plate, he was a little more abusive,” Whitbeck said. “As I was writing down the information about the protest, he said, ‘Go ahead, file the damned protest. You’re never gonna work in Burbank again.”’
Whitbeck ejected Haynes and asked the coach if he had a substitute coach. When Haynes said “no,” Whitbeck forfeited the game to Alhambra.
Whitbeck went to his car, only to be followed by several Burbank fans, players and Haynes. “They gave me more abuse,” he said. “I just tried to shut it out of my mind. I did my job and left.”
Frank Kallem, Burbank’s athletic director, said he talked to an administrator at the Southern Section office last Wednesday. The administrator told Kallem that if the coach is ejected, anybody that holds a valid teaching credential can finish the game as coach.