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9-year-old boy told he's too good to pitch

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9-year-old boy told he's too good to pitch

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 for it. They say Jericho's coach, Wilfred Vidro, has resigned.

But Vidro says he didn't quit and the team refuses to disband. Players and parents held a protest at the league's field on Saturday urging the league to let Jericho pitch.

"He's never hurt any one," Vidro said. "He's on target all the time. How can you punish a kid for being too good?"

The controversy bothers Jericho, who says he misses pitching.

"I feel sad," he said. "I feel like it's all my fault nobody could play."

Jericho's coach and parents say 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 says 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."

Noble acknowledged that Jericho had not beaned any batters in the co-ed league of 8- to 10-year-olds, but say parents expressed safety concerns.

"Facing that kind of speed" is frightening for beginning players, Noble said.

League officials say they first told Vidro that the boy could not pitch after a game on Aug. 13. Jericho played second base the next game on Aug. 16. But when he took the mound Wednesday, the other team walked off and a forfeit was called.

League officials say 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 denies threatening any one, 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?"

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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Just watch: this kid is gonna be a guest on every major talkshow in the country in the next week and a half -- Leno, Letterman, Kimmel. Whoever made the decision that the kid couldn't play is going to be subject to all kinds of derision, if not lawsuits. It's going to be a big mess, real fast.

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I find this sad, but I understand what the league is saying. When someone is too good for a particular standard, they go to the next standard. It's like having an A-grade team playing in D-grade -- it's not fair. They should be playing at the appropriate standard, not well below that standard.

Having said that, he should be allowed to complete the season, and then be asked to move to a higher-level league for the following season.

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Part of the problem is it's a bunch of adults who set up a league for kids, and now are trying to solve a problem that grew out of the situation they created. I've found that almost always, if a group of kids is left to their own devices, they solve their own problems. That isn't being allowed to happen here. The solution the adults come up with certainly won't be in the best interests of the kids, but in their own. That's the way it generally is when adults get too involved in kids' games. Let them be kids, step back and just let them do what they will, and almost always they work things out and they all accept it and move on to having fun.

C

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Cole, the problem with your theory is that the league was founded on the basis of age, not ability. They can't put something in the rules that says, "if you're exceptionally advanced in your abilities, you can't play." Exceptional ability should have nothing to do with it.

What if they had a six-year-old who could knock the ball out of the park every time? What if they had an 8-year-old who could run 12 miles an hour? At what point do they just say, "only average players need apply?"

No, I think the parents have a good lawsuit here. I also think the mother was out of control (as the story says), and concede that she doesn't have the right to act obnoxious at a game.

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Cole, the problem with your theory is that the league was founded on the basis of age, not ability. They can't put something in the rules that says, "if you're exceptionally advanced in your abilities, you can't play." Exceptional ability should have nothing to do with it.

What if they had a six-year-old who could knock the ball out of the park every time? What if they had an 8-year-old who could run 12 miles an hour? At what point do they just say, "only average players need apply?"

No, I think the parents have a good lawsuit here. I also think the mother was out of control (as the story says), and concede that she doesn't have the right to act obnoxious at a game.

I'm not disagreeing with you at all about anything. What I have a problem with is adults organizing these things for kids, and forgetting they are kids, and why they're organizing the league in the first place.

I coached Little League for a number of years. The politics that go on are amazing. I've seen a coach go so far as to attempt gerrymandering with league officials when it comes to player recruitments, trying to have certain kids declared available only to him because of where they live. I've witnessed one talk up the home plate umpire before a game, telling them that the opposing pitcher has a balk in his delivery so the umpire will call it time after time and so disrupt him, when in fact there is no balk, but simply a coach playing mind games. I've seen all sorts of shenanigans by adults. And believe it or not, I've seen the looks of disappointment, disgust, disbelief and anger by the players as they hear about some of these things.

The fact is, the kids are there to play the game, and it's the adults that go crazy arranging for their team to have advantages, which sounds suspiciously like what was happening in the league with the hard-throwing 9-year-old. This sounds a bit nuts, I know, but I saw it happen for the four years I was involved. I finally quit in disgust. I loved working with the kids, teaching them baseball, helping them improve their skills, helping them learn the game. I hated the involvement of adults, to whom winning was the only thing that mattered.

I had one game where one of my players made an error in the last inning that allowed the other team to win. After the game, he was sitting in the dugout crying. Eleven and twelve year old boys cry when they're hurting. This boy's mother walked into the dugout and started screaming at him about crying, in front of the other boys. I tried to get her out of the dugout, but she simply ignored me and kept berating her son for not acting like a man. I hustled the other boys out as quickly as I could. Some parents don't know anything about not humiliating their sons. I'd have liked to have hit her with a bat. I was mad enough to!

My orginal contention remains. Get a bunch of boys together with balls, bats and gloves, and they'll have a tremdous amount of fun and play till it's too dark to see. Get adults involved, and the fun component is sharply reduced, and the pressure to win becomes all important.

I think fun is better.

C

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Cole says:

I think fun is better.

And therein is the real reason I detest competitive sport.

The pressure to win at all costs is something I couldn't cope with as a child.

As a young teenager, the berating of the coaches at my highschool was akin to the language of a marine sergeant.

I was called a useless piece of S**t, because I had no desire to win. I did enjoying playing games when I could.

However, in order to play, I had to want to win. I didn't want to play under those terms, so I didn't, much to the disgust of the gorilla coach in charge.

We orangutans, especially those of us who have bonobos genes in our blood line, are a peaceful breed who prefer to just have fun. So I threw the coaches s**t back at him. I eventually spent sports lessons in music class.

The thing is I would have enjoyed the fun of playing a game. But the pressure to be aggressive, to be brutish in attitude towards the other players was not what I thought of as fun.

Perhaps I am gay?

:icon_rabbit:

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There have been various TV shows that have shown parents getting involved in the games, and usually not for the better.

I was called a useless piece of S**t, because I had no desire to win. I did enjoying playing games when I could.

Sometimes parents (dad to be more specific), will pressure the boy to play to make in order to make them men.

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Sometimes parents (dad to be more specific), will pressure the boy to play to make in order to make them men.

And sometimes we dads pressure the boys to play in order to make them mix with other kids and to learn that they can't always win :icon_rabbit:

Neither my wife nor I particular care about winning (it's nice, but not essential), but we want our boys to play some sort of sport, because there are a lot of benefits, socially and physically.

However, the 'Ugly Parent Syndrome' is alive and well at many sporting events. My eldest boy plays 'Biddy Ball', which is basketball with all the useless rules taken out (eg. three second rule, travelling, double dribble, five foul limit, ...). They also don't keep track of who wins each game. The idea is to have a fun game, and that's it. But I've heard parents berating their kids for not trying hard enough, or for making mistakes. It's only a game!!!!

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And sometimes we dads pressure the boys to play in order to make them mix with other kids and to learn that they can't always win :icon_rabbit:

Neither my wife nor I particular care about winning (it's nice, but not essential), but we want our boys to play some sort of sport, because there are a lot of benefits, socially and physically.

However, the 'Ugly Parent Syndrome' is alive and well at many sporting events. My eldest boy plays 'Biddy Ball', which is basketball with all the useless rules taken out (eg. three second rule, travelling, double dribble, five foul limit, ...). They also don't keep track of who wins each game. The idea is to have a fun game, and that's it. But I've heard parents berating their kids for not trying hard enough, or for making mistakes. It's only a game!!!!

I wasn't inferring that all dad's are like that. There are dad's who will encourage their kids to go out play, to make new friends and socialize with others. I know growing up myself, when a bunch of us got together to play ball, we played for the fun of it.

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This crap seems to happen in Canada too, but mostly with Hockey. Hockey parents have actually been BANNED from attending their kids' games in several cities, and the kids find it really strange, but quickly very nice, that there aren't screaming banshee parents in the stands.

Mediocrity IS what is aimed for, more often than not. A certain amount of superiority over the norm seems to be acceptable, but it rapidly become a 'no no', as that superiority become too great.

The other suggestion I've read, about moving the kid to a higher level, often won't work, because the rules stipulate ages, so the very proficient youngster literally has nowhere to go. We have had something similar with a female soccer player near here, in which she it leaps and bounds above the other females in the league, and she wants into the men's league. The men don't mind, but the system refused to allow it. I believe I read that the legal challenge has now allowed her to play in the men's league, as the only valid reason for even differentiating between the sexes was the endurance and strength differences, which this female player has taken care of by skill and training.

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The other suggestion I've read, about moving the kid to a higher level, often won't work, because the rules stipulate ages, so the very proficient youngster literally has nowhere to go.

There of course is another reason this isn't always the best solution. At older ages this might work better. At younger ages, most kids want to be playing on a team and in a league with their friends. Moving them to another league, or another age group within their league, generally means moving them away from their friends. Many younger kids will balk at that. Yes, they enjoy playing the game, but not if it's with a bunch of older kids.

C

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Here is an article that was written on this subject that appeared in the Akron Beacon Journal:

Sheldon Ocker: Pitcher is caught in adult game

By Sheldon Ocker

Beacon Journal sports writer

POSTED: 09:43 p.m. EDT, Aug 30, 2008

Did you hear the one about the kid pitcher who got his team kicked out of the league because he was too accomplished? The Indians should have such problems.

If you listened to radio or watched television last week, you probably are aware of the bizarre events that unfolded in New Haven, Conn., so you know this is no joke. Actually, the ongoing fracas would be hilarious, if it weren't such a maddening example of grown-ups acting badly.

These are the basics: Nine-year-old Jericho Scott, who turned 10 last Wednesday, joined the Will Power Fitness team of the Liga Juvenil De Baseball De New Haven three weeks ago, in the middle of the season.

Jericho pitched three times, and his team, unbeaten when he arrived, lifted its record to 8-0. That's when the trouble began. In Will Power Fitness' next game, league officials told coach Wilfred Vidro that Jericho no longer could pitch. So he played second base instead.

But Jericho did take the mound the following game and the opposing team walked off the field, the umpires declaring a forfeit. According to witnesses, angry parents/fans of the Will Power Fitness players, especially Nicole Scott, Jericho's mother, raged about the injustice of disallowing Jericho to pitch.

Why did the league object to Jericho pitching? Officials said that because his fastball topped out at 40 mph, he was a danger to batters who are just learning the game. Liga Juvenil is considered a ''developmental'' league composed of relatively unskilled players or novices.

Moreover, league administrators claimed, hitters were so fearful of Jericho's pitches, they might quit the league and never play baseball again. These officials insisted their only concern was for the safety and well-being of the tikes who were in mortal danger from a fellow 9-year-old.

Since then, there have been legal threats ? naturally, both the league and Jericho's parents hired lawyers ? and a back story has emerged that puts into question Liga Juvenil's ostensible reason for keeping Jericho off the mound.

More beneath surface New Haven Register columnist Dave Solomon did a little digging and discovered that Jericho also plays on a Pony League team called Dom Aitro. Solomon describes the players in this league as all-stars and Jericho as only the fourth-best pitcher on the team, who recently became the regular second baseman. Solomon talked to at least four kids who play in the Liga Juvenil and asked them whether they were afraid to bat against Jericho. Each of the players said he had no fear of standing in against Jericho, and a couple claimed to have gotten hits off him. Liga Juvenil says it is disbanding Will Power Fitness and dispersing its players to other teams. Officials also say that Vidro has resigned as coach. He says he hasn't quit and has vowed to keep the team together. So what really is going on here? Apparently, just the usual grown-up mischief: misplaced ambition, trying to win at all costs, living through their children, lack of perspective, total lack of common sense, which obviously isn't common at all. Nicole Scott says that her son Jericho was approached about five months ago by officials of Liga Juvenil, who asked him whether he would like to play for Carlito's Barber Shop team, two-time defending champion. It just happens that the league president either is an owner of the shop or works there. Jericho chose to play for Will Power Fitness instead, but not until mid-August. Why the time lapse? Did Will Power Fitness see a chance in midseason to unseat Carlito's? The team apparently recruited another player from Pony League in August. Could it be that the league, or at least Carlito's, decided to respond to the threat to its title hopes by getting rid of Jericho under the pretense of his being a danger to other players? Jericho's parents say that his pitches have never been clocked, and league officials admit that he never has hit an opposing batter. And what is the risk of bodily harm if a 9- or 10-year-old throws 40 mph? I'm guessing that the distance between the pitcher's mound and the plate in Liga Juvenil is about 45 feet. I have been told more than once that just to keep a baseball in the air throwing from a big-league mound to the plate (60 feet, 6 inches), the velocity must reach 35 mph.

Lawyers join fray Meanwhile, the antagonists have their lawyers on the case. The attorney for the Scotts, John Williams, said his objective is to see to it that Will Power Fitness remains in the league and gets into the playoffs, where it belongs. He also is threatening to sue the league for pain and suffering to Jericho and other players. Parents are holding a carwash and possibly other fundraisers to pay Williams, who is known in New Haven as a lawyer who will take on unusual cases. This is a story the big media couldn't resist. So there were calls to the Scotts from Letterman and Leno, the Today Show and Ellen DeGeneres. That kind of exposure ensures one thing: Reporters will follow Jericho Scott's baseball ''career'' at least until he is 21 to see whether he ''makes it.'' But right now, Jericho ? the Randy Johnson of Liga Juvenil De Baseball De New Haven ? is a forgotten soul, even though he has been described as both perpetrator and victim in this melodrama. What he has become is a pawn of the adults on both sides, who I'm sure are ready to carry their fight to the Supreme Court or into a WWE ring (good news, folks, you can whack each other with metal chairs) to obtain satisfaction. Jericho had the most sensible reaction the day he was banished from the mound: He cried. He also spoke to the sensibilities of other children who are caught in a tug of war between irrational and overzealous parents, when he said, ''I feel sad. I feel like it's all my fault that nobody could play.'' Unfortunately, the grown-ups wouldn't want it any other way, kid.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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Sheldon Ocker can be reached at socker@thebeaconjournal.com.

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Very well-written story. I can see now that there may be a lot of outside factors going on.

Good that the kid can still play on a different team. From the tone of the original reports, it sounded like he'd never play again, which is obviously not true.

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I disagree witth some, kid should play and then go up, half of it is the parents fault.

, now with kid sports they don't want to have any losers anymore.. everyone is a winner what happend with being able to lose and to actually learn lession. now with alot of schools everyone has be able to get onto a team, ya know not everyone is cut out for every sport. Plus how are they going to able to deal with getting jobs deal with a guy or girl etc. Also now if they have a birthday party also on a weekend you have to invite everyone that is pretty stupid.

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You're right, Drew. People (parents, usually) forget that there are lessons in everything their kids do, and that winning isn't always necessary to have fun. Starting in intermediate school I played tennis, and still do sometimes, and I was and am pretty awful. But we played for fun, and I had fun, and we ended up laughing a lot. When I played tennis against kids who were much better than I was, it was still fun because the coaches made it fun for us. I was usually put into duals matches, paired against other kids who were not much above or below the level of me and my partner. They's also rotate partners, and that evened out the matches. If being a winner was essential I would have stopped playing tennis.

Team sports for young kids should be played the same way, with the kids who are serious and good moved on to leagues with the other better players and having a place for the kids who just want to have fun.

Colin :icon_geek:

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...

Team sports for young kids should be played the same way, with the kids who are serious and good moved on to leagues with the other better players and having a place for the kids who just want to have fun.

Colin :icon_geek:

That sounds eminently sensible to me, Colin.

:icon11:

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"with the kids who are serious and good moved on to leagues with the other better players and having a place for the kids who just want to have fun"

It seems to me that the challenge in this is what to do with the kids who are NOT serious, but ARE good yet who DON'T want to move to other leagues, but just play with their friends.

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