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Taft’s Voytek Wins Another Reprieve on Eligibility Trail : Prep baseball: City overturns pitcher’s one-year suspension, marking the second time he has been reinstated.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Taft High pitcher Nathan Voytek’s one-year suspension was overturned by a City Section appeals committee Thursday after the panel determined that Voytek did indeed live in the school’s attendance area during the 1990-91 school year.

Voytek, who as a little-known sophomore threw four shutouts in the spring, had been ruled ineligible to play sports in 1991-92 after information gathered by Taft administrators indicated that the adults with whom Voytek lived had falsified their address.

Stephen Singer and Larry Schneiderman, with whom Voytek has been living since he moved to California in the summer of 1990, presented additional information to the City rules committee Thursday that substantiated their claim that Voytek had lived in Taft’s attendance area all along.

City Commissioner Hal Harkness said that the new evidence was sufficient to reinstate Voytek, 16, apparently closing the book on one of the stranger stories in Taft athletics.

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In the spring, Taft administrators were told by an anonymous caller that Voytek did not reside in the school’s attendance area.

Taft sent a representative to Singer’s Tarzana home, which falls within Taft’s attendance boundaries and had been listed as Voytek’s residence when he enrolled. Neighbors were questioned about whether they recalled seeing Voytek and his “family” living in the Tarzana house, Harkness said.

“Procedurally, the person who checked into the case wasn’t told what to look for,” Harkness said. “This is a case where it was two adults and a young man, not a particular family.”

Consequently, after reviewing a report from Taft, the City ruled that Singer’s home was not Voytek’s primary place of residence. Singer, 23, who was fired as Taft’s walk-on pitching coach during the fallout from Voytek’s one-year suspension, made an emotional presentation to the rules committee Thursday morning.

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“He made a rather compelling case for further review,” Harkness said. “And based on the new evidence, (Voytek) was reinstated.”

Said Singer: “I’m happy it’s over. I know we all are.”

Voytek, a right-hander, started the ’91 season as an unheralded reserve with no varsity experience.

Yet by the time he was suspended at the end of the regular season, Voytek had a record of 6-1, an earned-run average of 1.21 and had recorded a string of 28 scoreless innings. Taft forfeited the six victories in which Voytek appeared. Harkness said the forfeitures will stand.

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“I think he was caught in the middle of a tug of war, and he paid the price,” Harkness said. “We’re glad that the process has been served.”

Voytek (5-foot-10, 160 pounds) transferred to Taft from Trinity High in Washington, Pa. He left his single mother to move in with Singer and Schneiderman, who since has become Voytek’s legal guardian.

The two met while Schneiderman--who last summer coached the West team to its first gold medal in Olympic Festival baseball competition--was coaching a youth team in Washington.

After the City learned the specifics of Voytek’s transfer, it ruled the pitcher ineligible because Voytek had relocated to California without his guardian of record, his mother. The City later reinstated Voytek and granted him an after-the-fact hardship waiver a week later.

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“It’s great to know that everything is finally all right,” said Voytek, who expects to join Taft for its winter-league game Saturday.


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