BARRINGTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Barrington Little League coaches are defending their team, which is facing controversy as they get ready for the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
In a recent article in the New Hampshire Union Leader, the Goffstown coach was quoted in the paper, alleging the Rhode Island team was stealing signs at the New England Regional title game on Saturday in Bristol, Connecticut.
“It’s a shame and a disgrace that 11- and 12-year-old boys are being depicted as cheaters and sign stealers. We’ve never done that. We don’t condone that. We never have,” said Manager Chris Pomades. “We are quite the opposite. We stand for respecting the game of baseball. We always have, we always will. This is just ridiculous.”
During the game in question, the newspaper reports the Goffstown coach said the Barrington boys were leaning in, doing hand gestures, and indicating to the batter what kind of pitch was coming.
“You can do that in big league ball, but in Little League it’s unsportsmanlike, it’s dishonorable, and it’s disgusting,” the coach is quoted as saying in the article. “They did it the whole tournament and got away with it, and now that’s what’s representing New England in the Little League World Series. It’s just a bad look.”
Barrington third-base coach Frank Fede said the allegations are ridiculous. He said they have smaller kids on the team who have to look around the pitcher to see when the ball passes the plate, if contact is made, or if there’s a passed ball.
“Go look at the kids. They can’t stand still on the bases. We’ve been living with these kids for two weeks, they can’t stand still in their rooms. I mean they just move around,” Fedes said. “They miss my signs, and I’m the third-base coach. So, all of a sudden, we taught them this intricate sign system? It’s really crazy and I really feel bad for our kids.”
In a statement to Eyewitness News Tuesday, Barrington Little League also denied the allegations, saying, “The article in the Union Leader is unfortunate, and its premise false.”
The statement received from Barrington Little League President Fletcher Thomson, also said, “We hold our coaches, player, and teams to the highest standards, and do not coach or condone unsportsmanlike behavior of any kind.”
The Little League International Tournament Committee also released a statement following the newspaper’s report, saying they consider the “issues closed.”
“In response to the accusations that have been made against Barrington Little League at the New England Region Tournament, Little League International has full confidence that the umpires and tournament officials handled this situation appropriately. It is under the judgment of the umpire to decide if unsportsmanlike behavior, including stealing or relaying signs, has taken place. If so, the penalty is ejection and a one-game suspension for those involved. The Little League International Tournament Committee considers this issue closed and has stressed to the teams in Williamsport the importance of adherence to all rules and regulations governing the Little League Baseball World Series.”Little League International Tournament Committee
Fedes said the Union Leader never contacted them for a response before printing the original story.
Eyewitness News reached out to the New Hampshire Union Leader and copy editor Matthew McSorley says, “we wrote it and we stand by it.” We have also reached out to the Goffstone coach and are awaiting a response.
As for the players, the coaches said they’re trying to keep them focused on the game and turn this into a life lesson.
“We tried to shelter our kids as best we could from this. We told them they can’t go on Twitter. They can’t go on social media. We take their phones at night from them, so they can rest properly,” Fedes said. “It’s just a sad state of affairs that in this particular time in our country, you can make things up, you can accuse people falsely of things. You see it every day in the media. We live it every day.”
Barrington plays its first World Series game at 3 p.m. Thursday against a team from Virginia.