Youth baseball ump needs jaw surgery after coach throws brutal punch at Branchburg, NJ game
BRANCHBURG — A 72-year-old umpire is awaiting surgery with his jaw wired shut after the coach of a 13 and under baseball team threw a devastating punch over argued calls.
It all took place on Saturday, June 4 at a travel game at White Oaks Park in Branchburg. The score was 16-0 when the Staten Island parent coach stormed the field, Umpire Coordinator Mark Smith told CBS 2.
"It was in between innings and he said that a guy came up to him and called him a piece of [expletive]. So he ejected the gentleman," Smith said, who spoke to the victim. Smith said after more cursing, the coach hit the ump hard in the face, then drove off before the police arrived.
Frank Roman, deputy chief of the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office, told New Jersey 101.5 that there is an ongoing investigation.
"The matter is currently under investigation by the Branchburg Township Police and will be screened with the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office," Roman said.
The Staten Island team, which has been removed from its tournament, is affiliated with the New York Prospects. Prospects President Frank Cambria said he took "immediate action" against the coach and removed him immediately.
"My prayers for a speedy recovery go out to this umpire and all officials that have been abused by parents that just don't get it," Cambria said. "It's a kid's game that is supposed to build great memories, not give them nightmares."
Mike Kolesar, who has decades of experience coaching and playing, said in a video posted to the U.S. Amateur Baseball League's Facebook page that he had never before seen a physical altercation between an ump and a coach.
The coach responsible was drinking in between games, according to Kolesar. He added that parents were screaming out that the ump deserved it.
"It wasn't too long ago that we lost baseball to COVID," Kolesar said, "and it won't be long before we lose baseball completely because nobody is going to want to ump these games."