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Old 08-05-2005, 10:30 AM   #1
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Coach paid kid to hurt disabled teammate!

From SI.com

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UNIONTOWN, Pa. (AP) -- Standing so he could be seen from the witness stand, a youth baseball player calmly told a courtroom how he beaned a mentally disabled teammate with a ball during warm-ups to knock the boy out of the game.

Eight-year-old Keith Reese said that he hit teammate Harry Bowers because his coach offered him $25 to do so.

A district judge ordered T-ball coach Mark R. Downs Jr. to stand trial on charges including criminal solicitation to commit assault after both boys testified at a preliminary hearing Thursday.

Downs, 27, of Dunbar, is accused of offering the payment to Reese before a June 27 playoff game.

Prosecutors claim Downs did not want Bowers to play because the boy isn't as talented as other players. Bowers has a speech impairment, a form of autism and mild mental retardation, said his mother, Jennifer Bowers.

Downs' attorney, Thomas W. Shaffer, denied the allegations.

But Reese, fidgeting occasionally and often resting his arms on the witness stand, did not waver in his accusations.

"He told me if I would hit Harry in the face, he would pay me $25," Reese, wearing a T-shirt and shorts, told a small courtroom crammed with spectators.

Reese said the coach wanted Bowers out of the game. His first throw hit Bowers in the groin area, the second in the head.

After the first throw, Downs "told me to go out there and hit him harder. So I went out and hit him in the ear," Reese said.

The victim's mother said the beaning left her son's ear beet-red and slightly bloody.

Reese said he had never warmed up with Bowers before; he usually tossed the ball around with two other teammates on the Falcons.

Reese's father, Keith Reese Sr., said he thought something was wrong. "I told my wife I don't know why Keith's warming up with Harry because Harry can't even catch the ball and Keith's very good."

After her son was hit, Bowers said the coach suggested her son sit out the game, which he did. "He said the balls must be after him," she testified.

Downs will be arraigned Sept. 15 in Fayette County court on two counts of criminal solicitation to commit aggravated assault and one count each of corruption of minors, criminal conspiracy and recklessly endangering another person.

The elder Reese said that after the playoff game, the coach admitted to having offered the younger Reese money to hurt his teammate.

"He told me, 'I did something ignorant. I told [Keith] I'd give him $25 to hit Harry in the face to take him out of the game,"' Reese said.

The coach's attorney said his client likely was referring to a previous game, when Downs jokingly told his team he'd offer $25 to "anybody who can line drive the ref with the ball" when he was cautioned by the umpire.

But the elder Reese said it wasn't the first time the coach indicated he wanted to keep Bowers from playing. Reese said Downs had called his home at one point during the playoffs and said that if Bowers' mother called, "you just tell her the game's canceled, we're not going to play it."'

The younger Reese said Downs never paid him. When the boy asked for the money after the game, which the Falcons won, the coach said he'd get the $25 if he signed up for the fall season, the boy testified.

The team is part of the R.W. Clark Youth Baseball League, which ended its T-ball season earlier this month. The game was in nearby North Union Township, 40 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

League President Eric Forsythe said league officials looked into accusations against Downs before the season ended, but could not prove the coach did anything wrong. But Forsythe said neither of the boys involved in the incident was interviewed.

League organizers have said Downs won't be allowed to coach again if he is convicted of criminal charges. Shaffer said Downs is not suspended and remains a coach in the league.
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Old 08-05-2005, 10:41 AM   #2
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Old 08-05-2005, 10:46 AM   #3
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I'll not comment on the guilt of the parties until there is a verdict.

Though I will say while it is incredibly frustrating for people of lesser ability to try and join in a team game, that is not the way of dealing with it at all.
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Old 08-05-2005, 11:14 AM   #4
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Im with palace hero on this one
I can say from personal experience that is really frustrating when you go out there and increase your ability only to have somebody who cant play bring you down.
But hitting the poor kid in the face with a ball is no way to handle the situation.
They must have had a random draft if the coach got a player that he didnt want. That just sucks all around
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Old 08-05-2005, 11:33 AM   #5
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I think kids should be in sports to learn life lessons, not to worry about winning and individual performance. It's t-ball, not major league baseball AAA

Learning to interact w/ disabled people and to treat them w/ dignity and respect is a very important lesson for kids
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Old 08-05-2005, 12:14 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by MrsSpringsteen
I think kids should be in sports to learn life lessons, not to worry about winning and individual performance. It's t-ball, not major league baseball AAA

Learning to interact w/ disabled people and to treat them w/ dignity and respect is a very important lesson for kids
Well said.
Reading this made me very sad. After all, It's little league. This man is dispicable if he did as this child alleges. It doesn't matter how much you want to win a game; you don't hurt a child, a disabled child at that, to do it.
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Old 08-05-2005, 01:13 PM   #7
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I agree about being frustrated with peers who you know have no chance of contributing to the team, but if the team is no-cut, meaning there are no try-outs and anyone is welcome, then the coach should've found a more suitable coaching position if he wants to be more competitive. Same goes for the kids. If you can't accept your teammates, find a different team.
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Old 08-05-2005, 01:48 PM   #8
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I don't think the 8 year old was to blame at all though. An 8 year old's conscience isn't very strong at that age and the coach was a) a role model and b) offeeing him 25 bucks, the kid probably wouldn't know better.

The coach should go to jail.
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Old 08-05-2005, 02:41 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by MrsSpringsteen
I think kids should be in sports to learn life lessons, not to worry about winning and individual performance.
I agree 100%, but unfortunately the rise of "soccer mom" culture has pretty much dealt a death blow to that concept of youth sports. Sports have become just one more arena in which children are constantly pressured to please and impress their parents with their skills and achievements, while parents flatter themselves with the notion that their children's athletic successes prove that they've set them on the right path towards a lifetime of "achievement" (i.e. wealth and status).

Quote:
Downs jokingly told his team he'd offer $25 to "anybody who can line drive the ref with the ball" when he was cautioned by the umpire.
This immediately reminded me of Chaim Potok's classic The Chosen. The novel opens with a baseball game between an ultra-Orthodox boys' team and an Orthodox boys' team. The ultra-Orthodox coach instructs his players to "kill those infidels" and one of them almost succeeds, by line driving the Orthodox team's pitcher and landing him in the hospital.
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Old 08-05-2005, 04:22 PM   #10
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Sounds like this coach has been watching Coach Chaney too long...He must have little or no consicence to order something like this.
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Old 08-05-2005, 05:09 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by yolland
I agree 100%, but unfortunately the rise of "soccer mom" culture has pretty much dealt a death blow to that concept of youth sports. Sports have become just one more arena in which children are constantly pressured to please and impress their parents with their skills and achievements, while parents flatter themselves with the notion that their children's athletic successes prove that they've set them on the right path towards a lifetime of "achievement" (i.e. wealth and status).
So. Freakin'. True. I'm all for a bit of healthy competition in a game, and winning is definitely a nice thing and all, but people make it seem like it's the end of the world if someone loses a game, and the competition gets too intense nowadays, and it just takes all the fun out of the game. It's one of many reasons why I'm not much of a sports person. We'd be playing a fun game in gym class, and kids would freak out on me if I screwed up during the game. Like MrsSpringsteen said, this isn't the major leagues, people.

But I digress. In regards to the story at hand- to that coach. If you have a problem with a teammate, understandable, and you should deal with it, but not in that way. He's lucky there wasn't more injury done to the kid.

Angela
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Old 08-05-2005, 05:47 PM   #12
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I think they should put this damn coach in jail. This isn't right.
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Old 08-05-2005, 07:18 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by u2bonogirl
Im with palace hero on this one
I can say from personal experience that is really frustrating when you go out there and increase your ability only to have somebody who cant play bring you down.
But hitting the poor kid in the face with a ball is no way to handle the situation.
They must have had a random draft if the coach got a player that he didnt want. That just sucks all around
Are you kidding?? It's just a damned game. I can't believe anyone would care that much about a stupid game.
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Old 08-05-2005, 07:51 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by indra


Are you kidding?? It's just a damned game. I can't believe anyone would care that much about a stupid game.

I agree.

T-ball is supposed to be about learning the rules, developing skills, learning how to be a team player and most of all, having FUN.

I've sat through many Little League seasons and watched players of all skill levels, including a few kids with slight disabilities, and they all deserve an equal shot on the field. Whether this coach chose this kid in a draft or was told he had to take him, it doesn't matter...at 8 years old, every kid who pays his fees and is physically able deserves a chance, whether he/she is "good" or not.

Unfortunately, there are many coaches who think the way this one did, though I've never heard of one using violence to keep someone from playing. I have seen less skilled players benched for most of the game after they played the league minimum and coaches who try to get away with not playing them at all and playing dumb when a parent says something.

Seriously, why is a damn T-ball game so important?
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Old 08-05-2005, 09:53 PM   #15
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Bobby Knight's bastard love-child is coaching T-Ball????


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