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TAUNTON, Mass. (WPRI) — Taunton West Little League is striking out in negotiations with the Greater Taunton Amateur Baseball Umpires Association.
The city’s umpires stopped officiating games a week ago after umpires were verbally harassed and threatened following a controversial call at a game.
The umpires association and the league are continuing their talks without reconciliation, and have even met with Taunton’s mayor Shaunna O’Connell and city council members to try and come to an agreement.
The association’s president, Dominic Damiano, told WBZ in Boston he’s upset nothing happened at the time of the incident.
City councilors have since suspended those responsible for 30 days and any additional harassment will result in a lifetime ban. The city will also provide a board official at each game to monitor the crowd.
Damiano went back to the association with the changes, but some younger teenage officials were still concerned.
“The vote was unanimous that they still felt unsafe,” he said.
Massachusetts State Rep. Rodney Elliott was a high school referee for many years and is calling for change on the legislative level.
“I applaud the umpires in Taunton for their stance,” he said. “We’ve got to reverse the way that officials are being treated.”
Elliott has filed house bills to protect officials, which were heard by a Judiciary Committee several weeks ago.
The bills increase fines and include possible jail time for anyone who assaults an official. Elliott says about 20 states have similar legislation.
“Unless there are consequences, I feel that this behavior will continue,” Elliott said.
Seekonk already has a rule that has been around for six years. League officials there say if anyone is heckling an umpire during a game, they can’t come back for 24 hours.
The issue isn’t unique to Massachusetts. In early May, a Burrillville man was arrested after police say he assaulted multiple coaches during a Woonsocket Little League game.
WBZ reports the Taunton West Little League has been using other umpires for the time being.
Their end-of-season celebration is this weekend. It’s unclear whether the city’s umpires will return next year.
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