PAINESVILLE, Ohio (CN) – When a kid in a youth baseball league tried to bunt home a runner from third base, the opposing team’s manager “yelled out of the dugout to his pitcher on the mound, ‘Throw at him,'” and the pitcher did it, breaking the boy’s hand, the batter’s family says. As the batter lay “writhing in pain, defendant [coach Scott] Barber again yelled from the dugout, ‘Good!'” the family claims in Lake County Court.
Michael Connick and his parents claim that Scott Barber, an assistant coach in the Great Lakes Baseball League, encouraged violence, and that after Michael was taken to the hospital, and the game continued, Barber “continued with his pattern and practice of recklessness” by instructing his players “to run over players on the opposing team.”
In the incident that broke his hand, the family says, Michael was “given the signal for a suicide squeeze as bases were loaded.” Barber’s pitcher threw it “high and inside,” but not directly at him, the family says.
When Michael got the bunt sign again, Barber “yelled out of the dugout to his pitcher on the mound ‘throw at him,'” the complaint states. The pitcher then “recklessly pitched the baseball at plaintiff’s body … between chest and head level, and rising, and aimed directly at the plaintiff,” according to the complaint.
The ball hit him on the hand, which was still “wrapped around the barrel of the bat,” giving him “a severely broken left hand. … Immediately after plaintiff fell to the ground, and while writhing in pain, defendant Barber again yellow from the dugout, ‘Good!’,” the Connicks say.
Barber’s tactics are illegal under the rules of co-defendant Great Lakes Baseball League, the family says.
They also cite the American Baseball Coaches Association Code of Ethics, which states that “the coach shall put safety and health considerations above the desire to win, and never permit players to intentionally injure an opponent or engage in reckless behavior that might cause injury to themselves or others.”
The family demands punitive damages from Barber, the Great Lakes Baseball League and the National Baseball Tournament Association for negligence, assault and battery. They also want Barber prohibited from coaching youth sports for at least 15 years.
They are represented by Thomas Connick with Webster, Dubyak & Weyls of Cleveland.