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Umpires boycott the rest of the season after Little League parents and players jeer at 2 officials, some even threaten to assault them in the parking lot over controversial call

Composite screenshot of Boston 25 News YouTube video (Top: David DeOliveira | Bottom: Paul Nadeau)

An umpires' union in Taunton, Massachusetts, about 20 miles east of Providence, Rhode Island, has decided that its members will not officiate any more Little League games this season after fans and even 12-year-old players threatened two umpires following a controversial call in a recent playoff game.

Last Monday, two teams in the Taunton West Little League were in a heated playoff battle. The visiting team was ahead by two, but the home team was up to bat with two runners in scoring position. The next batter for the home team stepped into the box and smacked the first pitch for a double, sending both of his teammates home and tying the game.

Except the hit didn't count. Before the pitch was thrown, the home plate umpire, Paul Nadeau, raised his hand to signal that the ball was not yet in play. Both the batter and the pitcher must have missed the umpire's signal, but the field umpire, David DeOliveira, did not. Both Nadeau and DeOliveira confirmed that the ball was not yet in play when the pitch was thrown, and the at-bat had to begin all over again. The slugger returned to the box, but like mighty Casey and so many others before him, this time, the boy struck out.

Parents were outraged by the call and immediately began hurling threats and expletives at the officials. "As soon as we got off the field, we started to be confronted and accosted by numerous parents continuing to yell at us and get in our faces," Nadeau claimed.

Sadly, angry parents were not the only ones harassing the umps. "We had kids that were being condoned to do that as well, as far as to yell at us and say we suck," Nadeau added.

Some fans even threatened to assault the umpires in the parking lot after the game. "We are not prepared to handle harassment and verbal abuse after the game, especially while we're trying to leave the parking lot," DeOliveira stated.

Taunton umpires harassed by parents and coaches, will no longer work gameswww.youtube.com

The umpires reported the incident to their union, the Amateur Baseball Umpires Association, and the union board then voted "overwhelmingly" to suspend umpiring services to the local Little League for the rest of the season. Union president Dominic Damiano confirmed the decision. "It was unsafe, and I was not going to put those guys in that situation, and I had to make sure that it wasn’t going to happen again," Damiano said.

League president Tyler Doehler issued a statement, calling the game an "isolated incident" and insisting that "all parties involved" in the inappropriate behavior "have been suspended" from the park "indefinitely." The league has begged the umpires' union to reverse course, offering to host games without fans or even to pay for police to provide additional security, but thus far, the union has remained firm.

"We would like to go back," Damiano said, "but there has to be some type of standard met."

The incident occurred on June 5, and according to a sign, the Taunton West Little League is planning to host an "end of season celebration" on June 17, so there likely aren't many games left on the schedule. Still, teams, coaches, and parents are now on their own to find officials for those few remaining games.

Despite the apparent impasse between the league and the union, a solution may yet be on the horizon, as representatives from both sides are soon expected to meet with Taunton Mayor Shaunna O'Connell. "Our focus remains on getting the kids back on the field and allowing them to complete their amazing season," Doehler's statement said.

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