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SEEKONK, Mass. (WPRI) — There has been a rise of verbal harassment from spectators aimed at referees and umpires and now some Little Leagues are putting parents behind the plate.

After multiple umpires quit in Deptford, New Jersey, the league started a new rule that if anyone fights with an umpire they will have to make the calls at the plate for the next three games or be banned for up to a year.

Closer to home in Seekonk, there is a similar rule, but not as extreme, that has been around for six years.

League officials said anyone heckling an umpire during a game can’t come back for 24 hours.

Seekonk officials said they will keep their own zero-tolerance policy but applaud the unique rule.

“It’s eight- and- nine-year-olds, there’s no reason to get upset about a ball and a strike,” said Seekonk Little League President Mike Boisvert.

“They’re just children and they learn by example, and if we’re not setting the example, they might learn it from someone else and it might not be the right one,” parent Melissa Reis said.

Seekonk Little League said they’ll welcome any parent who wants to see what it is like as an umpire, they can get behind home plate as a volunteer.

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