With the Little League World Series beginning Thursday, teams from across the country and world will arrive in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, to vie for the chance to be crowned the pre-teen kings of the diamond.
The group from Goffstown, New Hampshire, is not one of those teams. It lost to the bunch from Barrington, Rhode Island, in the New England regional final Saturday — but not without controversy. Goffstown manager Pat Dutton accused the Barrington squad of stealing signs during their turn at-bat and a runner on second.
“You can see (runners on second base) leaning in, looking in and they’re doing hand gestures to their kid (at the plate) indicating what kind of pitch it is and where it’s located,” Dutton told the New Hampshire Union Leader. “You can do that in big league ball, but in Little League it’s unsportsmanlike, it’s dishonorable, and it’s disgusting. 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.”
Dutton told the paper he first noticed the swiping of signs when the two teams squared off in the semifinals Aug. 8. It occurred again Saturday, prompting the skipper to alert the home plate umpire.
Little League rules dictate that stealing signs triggers an automatic ejection for the offending player and manager. In Dutton’s mind, it reflects poorly on the adults leading the team.
“It’s just frustrating to see teams and kids having to go about it that way when clearly they were playing better than we were,” he said. “They didn’t have to do that. That’s something these kids don’t learn on their own. That’s something that they’re taught. They’re coached to do that.
“Obviously the team condones it, they coach it, and, personally, that’s something that I’m completely against. Little League is supposedly against it, but you wouldn’t know it this week.”
Barrington will take on the team from Loudoun South Little League in South Riding, Virginia, in their opening game Thursday.