Friday, June 21, 2019

13-Year-Old Umpire Cordova Talks CO Brawl

Deemed the only mature adult on the field during a stands-clearing brawl amongst parents in Lakewood, Colorado, 13-year-old umpire Josh Cordova, spoke to KUSA of Denver about the massive fight and what led to the criminal acts that followed, telling the NBC affiliate that it was only after the game that he heard the teams—the Soldiers and Green Socks—had a contentious past. League brass, similarly, say they didn't know beforehand of any problems between the teams until the on-field brawl occurred.

In MLB, for instance, such intel if it existed would comprise a key part of the league's "Heads-Up" report, which advises major league umpires of previous incidents between the teams that could be of interest during an upcoming game, such as an impending beanball war or incendiary comments between the teams in the media.

Cordova described his journey in baseball—starting with the Bear Creek Junior Sports Association at the age of five, and getting into umpiring for "the love of baseball...hopefully teach the younger generation how to play the game of baseball."

A massive fight broke out in Colorado.
An umpire for two years prior to the viral youth baseball brawl, Cordova described the contentious atmosphere leading up to the fight in the top of the 6th inning: "The coaches were chirping to each-other the entire time, and you could tell the teams didn't like each-other...making sly comments or remarks, like 'you're cheating' and such, comments that should never have been made at a seven-year-old baseball game."

Cordova issued his disciplinary action after an elderly man cursed from the stands: "I issued a warning to both sidelines to watch the language, and one of the teams didn't find satisfaction in that warning or ruling, and the coaches started getting in my face, before I knew it, and they wanted me to change the call [and eject an opposing coach], and then one of the Bear Creek coaches stepped in and told everyone to get out of my face, and it escalated from there."
Related PostWorkplace Violence - Parents Brawl at Youth Game (6/20/19).

Umpires observe a fight from afar.
Said Cordova, "I shouldn't have to tell a grown man how to act around kids...they're teaching the children a bad lesson, they shouldn't be fighting over a game."

As his MLB, NCAA, and NFHS colleagues do during bench-clearing fights at the higher levels, Cordova said he exited the skirmish and went to the outfield with assistance from the Bear Creek coach, whom Cordova credits with helping him: "They were running around fighting all over the field."

Cordova called his father, Josh Cordova, Sr., the Bear Creek Junior Sports Association's minors baseball director: "I was extremely scared for him. He's never been exposed to anything like this before."

Cordova, Sr. spoke to KUSA.
When Cordova, Sr. arrived, his first concern was for the youths' safety and trying to clear the field, especially so the teams arriving for the next game scheduled on the field wouldn't have to witness the fight.

Cordova, Sr. explained why the league assigned a 13-year-old umpire to a 7-year-old game: "This is a league where you can learn and progress and learn to love the game of baseball. So that is what this league is intended for. It's once you get to nine-years-old and above is when you start to introduce the dropped third strike, the stealing bases, that kind of deal. This league is purely for fun and teaching fundamentals. So, us as adults, as parents, we decided he'd be fine at a 7-year-old baseball game...In our 40 years at Bear Creek, we'd never had any type of situation where this has eroded like this before."

Sr. alleges this man "was pushing my son."
As for the man on the ground in the viral video suffering from an apparent head injury? Sr. identified him as the head coach for the Soldiers team: "That's the gentleman who was pushing my son all the way to home plate and yelling in his face."

13-year-old umpire Cordova sees a teachable moment for the seven-year-old players: "They should handle things more maturely, even though they're seven. They shouldn't fight over a game." As for the coaches: "Usually I like to tell them that none of the kids are going to the major leagues, so keep the yelling and comments to a minimum, because it is just a Little League game."

Responding to a final question as to whether he'd like to continue umpiring, Cordova said: "Yeah, I find joy in helping the kids learn the game of baseball."

Video as follows:
Alternate Link: 19-minute interview with umpire Josh Cordova of Colorado (KUSA)


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