Little League Season Canceled After Fan Threatens Umpire With a Knife
A threat to an umpire by an overzealous fan led officials to cancel the Little League baseball season in this desert community.
Umpire Carl Ott was threatened with a knife by a fan as he was calling a game between the Cardinals and the Yankees, two teams of 8-year-olds.
Ott said the Cardinals were up with two outs in the fourth inning when a long drive to the outfield got caught in high weeds. The Yankee outfielder couldn’t find the ball, so Ott called it a ground-rule double, freezing runners at second and third.
A man in the crowd started yelling obscenities, Ott said. The man yelled louder when Ott called a third strike that ended the inning.
Ott said he threatened to end the game and told the man to leave, but the man walked onto the field, pulled a knife and threatened the umpire.
“He was going to stick me. I’d seen it in his eyes,” Ott said.
The man backed off when league President David Pacheco and other league officials ran on the field. Ott finished the game and declined to press charges against the man, saying he wanted to continue the season without trouble.
Pacheco said he canceled the final eight games because the league was unable to guarantee the safety of the umpires.
Pacheco said the move has been criticized by parents, coaches and other league board members, but he stands by his decision.
“They think they’re at the major league ballpark,” Pacheco said. “They call the kids all kinds of names.”
Since canceling the remainder of the season, Pacheco said officials in neighboring leagues have told him their crowds are better behaved.
As for the disappointed youngsters, Pacheco said he believes the experience will make them better ballplayers.