The North-Central District American Legion baseball league last week penalized the Dayton Raiders 18-and-under team for unsportsmanlike conduct.
District Commissioner Earl Riley told the Dayton coaching staff its team could play no more home games because the coaches could not control their players. Dayton has been accused by coaches of other teams of initiating fights, shouting obscenities, singing and screaming while on the field and in the dugout, and of other unsportsmanlike actions.
Dayton coaches call the league action unfair and have decided to forfeit the remaining four games of the regular season. Three of those were home games.
"We've decided to forfeit the rest of our games for the overall benefit of the program, and because the games were meaningless to us and the overall standings," said assistant coach Gary Kuykendall, who is filling in as head coach for George Bickerton, who underwent surgery July 20. The team had a 3-5 record in the second half of the season,and was out of contention for a second-half title.
Kuykendall said the punitive action stemmed from a July 22 game, after which Parkville manager Jay Morgan filed a written complaint with the league. Dayton won that game, 5-4.
The complaint accuses Dayton of not allowing Parkville enough pre-game practice time, screaming and singing while on the field and in their dugout, laughing when a Parkville player made an error, shouting obscenities at the Parkville team after the game, and deliberately trying to initiate a fight.
The letter also said Kuykendall tried at least three times to silence his players, to no avail, and that a Dayton fan threatened the Parkville catcher.
Kuykendall denied Morgan's charges.
"It takes a small-minded person to write a letter like that," he said. "After the game Parkville's coach, Jack Thomas, shook my hand and didn't seem to have any problems."
Thomas could not be reached for comment.
Kuykendall said the Raiders have a lot of spirit, and that other teams are probably envious of that.
"What we do is not excessive," he said. "We don't say anything to the other team's players."
He said he gave Parkville the field for practice exactly when
the team asked for it and he denied trying to calm his team on three occasions.
"Once I yelled 'Shut up' into the dugout, but it wasn't to the entire team, only to two players who were arguing between each other over what pitch to throw a certain batter. If he [Morgan] heard it three times there must have been a heck of an echo."
Kuykendall also denied that his team shouted obscenities at Parkville players.
Riley denied that he penalized Dayton as a result of Morgan's letter.
"I had decided that [suspending Dayton's remaining home schedule] before I got that letter," he said.
Last month Dundalk also charged Dayton with unsportsmanlike conduct at the Dayton Rod and Gun Clubs Buckshot Field following a Dayton victory.
Dayton still has a shot at winning the North-Central District championship.
To capture the district the Raiders must win a one-game first-half championship playoff against Dundalk on Thursday at Hereford High.
Then they must win a best-of-three playoff against the second-half winner to emerge as district champ and the league's state tournament representative.
Kuykendall did say he's asked the team to tone down its exuberant dugout behavior during Thursday's playoff game.