Thursday, August 22, 2019

Manager accuses LLWS team of stealing signs


The Barrington, Rhode Island all-stars, the New England Region representative in the Little League World Series, are being accused of a baseball no-no – stealing signs – to help get to the pinnacle of the sport in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Pat Dutton, the manager of the team from Goffstown, New Hampshire, which lost to Barrington in Saturday’s region final, is saying just that.

“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 after Saturday’s loss in Bristol, Connecticut. “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.”

The Barrington Little League issued a statement to on Tuesday, calling the allegations “unfortunate” while denying any sort of wrongdoing.

“We hold our coaches, players and teams to the highest standards,” the Barrington statement said, “and do not coach or condone unsportsmanlike behavior of any kind.”

Dutton told The New Hampshire Union Leader that he suspected the Barrington team of stealing signs during Goffstown’s 2-1 win on Aug. 8 and alerted the umpire, just as he did during Saturday’s game.

Dutton said warnings were issued to Barrington’s manager and a player on the very next pitch after Saturday’s complaint.

“That’s something these kids don’t learn on their own. That’s something that they’re taught,” Dutton told the paper. “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.”

While it is a frowned-upon practice and one of baseball’s “unwritten rules” at higher levels, it is prohibited at the Little League level with players and coaches being subject to ejection from the game.

According to Tournament Rule 3 from Little League Baseball, “if in the judgment of the umpire, a player/coach/manager is deemed to be stealing and relaying pitch selection or a location, it is considered unsportsmanlike, and said offender is to be ejected from the game.”

Barrington opens the Little League World Series against the Southeast Region champs from South Riding, Virginia, on Thursday (ESPN, 3 p.m. ET).

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