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Jericho Scott Pitches Too Good

A youth baseball league has banned a 9-year-old, and disbanded his team, because he throws too hard.

Jericho Scott, 9, warms up on the pitching mound in New Haven, Conn. Saturday Aug. 23, 2008. Officials with the Youth Baseball League of New Haven say they will disband Scott\'s team because his coach won\'t stop him from pitching. They say his hard throws may frighten other players in the baseball league for beginners. (AP Photo/Douglas Healey).Nine-year-old Jericho Scott is a good baseball player — too good, it turns out. The right-hander has a fastball that tops out at about 40 mph. He throws so hard that the Youth Baseball League of New Haven [Connecticut] told his coach that the boy could not pitch any more. When Jericho took the mound anyway last week, the opposing team forfeited the game, packed its gear and left, his coach said.

[...]

Jericho’s coach and parents say the boy is being unfairly targeted because he turned down an invitation to join the defending league champion, which is sponsored by an employer of one of the league’s administrators. Jericho instead joined a team sponsored by Will Power Fitness. The team was 8-0 and on its way to the playoffs when Jericho was banned from pitching.

“I think it’s discouraging when you’re telling a 9-year-old you’re too good at something,” said his mother, Nicole Scott. “The whole objective in life is to find something you’re good at and stick with it. I’d rather he spend all his time on the baseball field than idolizing someone standing on the street corner.”

League attorney Peter Noble says the only factor in banning Jericho from the mound is his pitches are just too fast. “He is a very skilled player, a very hard thrower,” Noble said. “There are a lot of beginners. This is not a high-powered league. This is a developmental league whose main purpose is to promote the sport.” Noble acknowledged that Jericho had not beaned any batters in the co-ed league of 8- to 10-year-olds, but say parents expressed safety concerns. “Facing that kind of speed” is frighteneing for beginning players, Noble said.

Truly bizarre.

Isn’t facing up to one’s fears a rather major rationale for youth sports? And the kids are surely wearing batting helmets and other protective gear?

Update: (Steve Verdon) My only conclusion is that little league baseball is some sort of joke. The idea that a kid is too good hence he can’t play just doesn’t make any sense. When my son swam at the Southern California Junior Olympics for 100 meter butterfly one of the kids he was racing against was ranked number one in that nation. The world record holder for the 10 and under age group is, of course, Michael Phelps, it would be like banning him from swimming the 100 meter fly.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Alex Knapp says:

    This is like something that would happen in an Ayn Rand novel, isn’t it? “The kid’s too good! It’s not fair!”

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  2. Triumph says:

    If that photo is any indication, it looks like the kid is cheating anyway–at that point in the delivery, his foot must be on the pitching rubber.

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  3. Bithead says:

    Prolly hamming it up for the camera, Triumph.

    Alex, my reaction exactly. so much for rewarding according to actual ability.

    More or less this is the attitude we see between the government and busienss, and the government and individuals. If you’re too much of a success, instead of rewarding your ability, they’ll take it away from you to raise soemeone else up.

    Orwell woulda had a feild day with this one.

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  4. markm says:

    ..the further pussification of American youts..

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  5. Anderson says:

    In *partial* defense of the league, kids that age should be out there mainly to have a good time, not to compete fiercely.

    It’s probably depressing for 95% of the batters against this kid to be struck out.

    I wonder whether the boy couldn’t have been promoted above his age group, to recognize his outstanding ability while keeping things “lite” for the rest of the 8-10 set?

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  6. James Joyner says:

    In *partial* defense of the league, kids that age should be out there mainly to have a good time, not to compete fiercely.

    Probably true, although I don’t know where one draws that line. It’s not unreasonable for the best athletes to dominate their competition. It would be a different matter if there were legit health concerns, but these appears to be simple competitiveness.

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  7. Bithead says:

    ….but these appears to be simple competitiveness.

    Or more correctly, a desire on the part of the leauge for the LACK thereof.

    And to exend the point about the prevailing attitude in government along those same lines, isn’t it interesting how the same ones that will dump on the successful business, will feign anger at our lack of competitiveness?

    I’m not trying to bang on government in this case… though I culd eunderstand the charge being made. What I’m suggesting is the same principles are in play in both cases… and the same results will occur. To wit; what message are the kids being sent? Don’t try too hard? What message is being sent our private sector? Don’t try too hard?

    Should we really be shocked and amazed when they each oblige us and sit on their hands?

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  8. Have the kid compete against older players. That’s what happens with phenoms like Bobby Orr.

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  9. Thom says:

    Just move him up to compete with 12-year-olds. Problem solved. If he continues to do well, he will eventually become a pro when he grows up.

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  10. Joshua says:

    When I was a kid, I moved cross country. When I went to sign up for Little League, there was basically 3 categories:

    1) “Instructional” – 8 and Under
    2) “Minors” – which was for 9 and 10 year olds.
    3) “Majors” – which was for 11 and 12 year olds.

    I went as an 8 year old for tryouts and was selected to play in the “Majors” with kids that were a couple of years older than me, and I played in 4 seasons without any more of a challenge than the kids that were older than I was.

    Really, moving the kid up to the next league isn’t going to do him any harm. He’ll be able to keep playing the position he excels at, and will have a bigger challenge against players who are a little more experienced.

    Seems pretty simple to me.

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  11. John Hyer says:

    If this is a developmental league, I can totally understand why they wouldn’t allow a “developed” player to play. I am all for competition and excelling, but putting an advanced player in a developmentaly league with beginners and then being shocked that parents complain is not fair to the beginners. The coach needs to work with the mother to find a league or team that plays on his level, or he won’t learn and grow as a player.

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  12. Tlaloc says:

    “I think it’s discouraging when you’re telling a 9-year-old you’re too good at something,” said his mother, Nicole Scott. “The whole objective in life is to find something you’re good at and stick with it.

    Did nobody else find this statement remarkable?
    She’s literally saying the only thing that matters is to be the best (or one of the best) at something, anything. That that is, in fact, the purpose of life itself.

    This woman sounds an awful lot like one of those parents who pushes her kids to perform rather than to be, you know, kids. It’s fairly disturbing really.

    Beyond that a 40mph fast ball sounds pretty dangerous to be regularly hurling at children.

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  13. K T Cat says:

    When I managed 10-11 year olds, we had a pitcher on an opposing team that threw in the 60-70s who was completely wild. His coaches put him on the mound and deliberately did not teach him how to control his pitching so he would intimidate the other team. The rest of us took to forfeiting the innings he pitched because we had several players hit. One of mine nearly had his elbow broken by a wild pitch. We wanted that kid banned from pitching.

    If this kid isn’t hitting anyone, however, there’s no excuse for this. It does sound like the league was ticked off that he didn’t go to the favored team. That kind of garbage happens all the time.

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  14. John Bigenwald says:

    Just move him up to compete with 12-year-olds. Problem solved.

    Problem solved for who? Now you have a 9 year old playing against 12 year olds. Does that solve the problem for him? No, because good 12 year olds don’t throw 40, they throw over 60.

    So this kid will go from being one of the best to being one of the worst players. Think that might be “frightening” to him? If that’s the rationale then it’s ludicrous to solve the problem by forcing one kid to endure in every game what you don’t want the other kids to face.

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  15. tamdar says:

    I remember moving up from the “minors” to the “majors” in Little League. And I clearly remember my first at-bat against a major league pitcher.

    Yes, it was scary. The kid was way bigger and threw way harder than any pitcher I ever opposed in the minor league. But the idea of asking that pitcher to remove himself from the mound was not even a possible thought for us. I took my wobbly knees up to the plate, watched the pitch through fear-weakened eyes, and hit a line drive over the outstretched glove of a leaping short stop.

    It goes with the territory and it’s a valuable experience for youngsters to get out there and handle it.

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  16. tim maguire says:

    I agree with the people who say this kid should be moved up a division. I have no problem with the league saying he’s too good. Ever try to compete with someone much better than you? Not only do you not enjoy it, but you don’t get any better either. If you’re outclassed too much, you don’t get a chance to develop.

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  17. EE says:

    This is absurd…my 9 year old throws 50 and regularly faces kids that throw harder than that.

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  18. Coach Bill says:

    I’m reading along thinking scum-sucking p*ss**s until I get to this passage:

    League attorney Peter Noble says the only factor in banning Jericho from the mound is his pitches are just too fast. “He is a very skilled player, a very hard thrower,” Noble said. “There are a lot of beginners. This is not a high-powered league. This is a developmental league whose main purpose is to promote the sport.”

    and I think, there’s more to this story than it appears.

    I coach Little League ™ ball and have for years. Occasionally, you get a jerk of a parent or coach, but well over 95% put the interests of all kids first. Nevertheless, lately I’ve been hearing more and more stories about parents and coaches “redshirting” players – holding them back a level or two to allow them to dominate a league, when they should be playing at a higher level. and this sounds like it could be the case here.

    Right now, there is still a degree of flexibility to allow players who are older, but have less experience or skill to play in the more developmental leagues – which generally allow coaches on the field to help instruct players during play. However, I am really worried that this practice of redshirting will force the league to implement hard age rules, regardless of playing ability.

    So there may be more to this story – be careful.

    Also, I encourage parents who have kids with ability to play them “up” if possible – force them to compete against the older kids with more experience – challenge them. One kid, the son of a guy I coached with made the local high school league all-star team as a sophomore, in large part, because he had been playing with kids who were 3-5 years older than him all his life.

    Second, the commenter who noted his kid throws in the 50 mph range is right – however, kids that do that don’t throw in a developmental league. To give you a bench mark, when we move kids up from t-ball, we put them in a machine pitch league that throws 33 mph strikes and then, part-way move them up to 35 mph. Most kids make the adjustment, but 40 mph is way too fast for these kids. This boy belongs at the next level.

    Finally, no matter what, even if the kid is in the wrong league, it was totally wrong for the opposing coach to scratch – the only reason to forfeit, in my opinion, is health and safety, which is conceded is not a problem here. A good coach can always use any situation to teach kids something. Quitting is not an option.

    p.s. I don’t use that scum-sucking language around the kids.

    :)

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  19. Tlaloc says:

    Nevertheless, lately I’ve been hearing more and more stories about parents and coaches “redshirting” players – holding them back a level or two to allow them to dominate a league, when they should be playing at a higher level.

    *goggles*

    You have to be shitting me. Why the ^%$# are people that stupid and callow allowed to breed?

    I can’t express how much I hate the trend of treating kids as adults or as mere extensions of the parent’s ego. Whether it is the relentless sexualization of young girls or the manipulation of kids to earn accolades that flatter the parent’s vanity it is pretty much just child abuse and should be treated as such.

    Mother &^%4ers.

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  20. Two--Four says:

    [...] for beginning players.”Little League attorney Peter Noble explains why a nine year-old kid was banned. When I close my eyes, I can still see the very first curve-ball that I ever faced. It was a 2-1 [...]

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  21. Bandit says:

    I need help – I’m kind of agreeing with tlc. My nephews play youth baseball in Glendale AZ – and from an early age it was all business. One second cousin thru 4 marriages or something was a 2nd round pick in the MLB draft this year. My Godson will be a senior starting LHP at his HS next year. He’s about 6’3″ 235. My brother told me he estimated about 10-20% of the kids on his team were using steroids. My other nephew is in class with Andre Ethier of the LAD little sister. I loved playing youth and HS baseball but eventhough it was competitive and there were a small number of kids who wnet on to play professionally it was nothing like what these kids go thru. They also don’t seem to particularly enjoy it but the last I heard the second cousin who got drafted had just turned down a $750K signing bonus and that’s some serious money.

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  22. John Burgess says:

    What rule book is this league following? Little League rules do not permit a kid to throw a complete game. Nor do they permit a kid who throws the permitted maximum of three innings to throw in the next game, regardless of how many days’ rest he has.

    If this is ‘developmental’, how do the other pitchers on this kid’s team get to develop if he’s the only one doing the pitching?

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  23. JB says:

    “the boy is being unfairly targeted because he turned down an invitation to join the defending league champion, which is sponsored by an employer of one of the league’s administrators.”

    This issue has been totally misrepresented as groupthink liberalism, in fact, while it is rooted in liberalism, its actually good old fashioned assholes doing what assholes always do, it may have been made more egregious by the locale, northeastern liberal assholes are easily, by far the biggest assholes and this incident should be a lesson to all, its a microcosm of what real liberalism is, these same assholes are demanding you pay for their healthcare…yuk yuk.

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  24. just me says:

    I wonder whether the boy couldn’t have been promoted above his age group, to recognize his outstanding ability while keeping things “lite” for the rest of the 8-10 set?

    This is essentially what the baseball and softball leagues do in our town, if a child is proficient beyond the skill level of his/her age peers.

    It is actually quite rare that you end up with a player who pitches that fast, and even though he hasn’t actually hit any batters, that doesn’t mean it may not happen, and they could very well be concerned about lawsuits. It also may be that some parents are complaining out of competitiveness too-I serve on the softball board, and know that at times competitiveness can lead to bickering over a scapegoat rather than the actual problem.

    However, it is pretty obvious this child pitches at a skill level well above his peers-the best and most fair solution would be to have him jump up a level, or encourage him to try out for a competitive league where you will have fewer of the kids who are beginners or whose parents signed them up and they do not want to be there.

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  25. Soccer Dad says:

    Life imitates dash parr…

    From the Incredibles. Dash: You always say ‘Do your best’, but you don’t really mean it. Why can’t I do the best that I can do? Outside the Beltway links to a story about a little league pitcher who’s too good. Nine-year-old Jericho Scott is a goo…

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  26. [...] Outside the Beltway links to a story about a little league pitcher who’s too good. Nine-year-old Jericho Scott is a good baseball player — too good, it turns out. The right-hander has a fastball that tops out at about 40 mph. He throws so hard that the Youth Baseball League of New Haven [Connecticut] told his coach that the boy could not pitch any more. [...]

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  27. Greg says:

    I agree that this appears to be a special developmental league. In Herndon VA, where my kids play, the Machine Pitch league for ages 7-9 uses a machine that pitches the ball at 35 mph at the start of the season and increases to 40 mph at the end of the season. Most kids make contact during their at-bats, though some do strike out.

    You can download the rules at Cal Ripken Baseball

    For the Rookie League, ages 8-10, kids can pitch, but are limited to at most two innings per game.

    My opinion is that if it is a developmental league, then the emphasis should be on letting as many kids pitch as is practical, and to enforce a low inning or pitch count limit. Also, the idea of keeping scores and standings for a developmental league is counterproductive.

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  28. [...] …for playing too well. A youth baseball league in the apparently bewitched town of New Haven, Connecticut, has banned young Jericho Scott and disbanded his 8-0 team. The reason? He throws too hard. The league’s lawyer says that it’s an instructional league, so a player who is too good makes the game unfair to everyone else. Perhaps not coincidentally, Scott had apparently turned down an invitation join the defending champion team, sponsored by a league official. [...]

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  29. Nathan says:

    Wow, I completely agree with tlaloc when it comes to treating children “like adults or extensions of their parents’ ego.” Great point. I also think John Bigenwald is exactly right to say that moving Jericho up to the next level might be rather traumatic and unfair to him. He certainly shouldn’t be forced to move up if he and his parents don’t want to.

    When I was in little league I sometimes faced pitchers much bigger and stronger than me, who threw hard enough to terrify. I have no idea if it was 40 or 140 mph, but the pitches might as well have been laser beams to me. The struggle was good for me, and my parents had the good sense to help me practice and grow through the situation. That doesn’t mean getting better at baseball, it means learning to persevere through a little adversity. This league is ‘instructional,’ but life lessons are more valuable instruction than baseball lessons. When parents react to their child facing a good player by demanding that the player be banned or promoted out of the league, instead of taking advantage of a teachable moment, it makes me feel sorry for their kid.

    Childhood isn’t just about having fun, it’s also about shaping character. The message this league and some parents are sending to these kids is: 1) we don’t believe in your ability to compete with the best, so we have to intercede for you, 2) when someone outperforms you, just have them punished instead of trying to rise to their level. That’s probably not the end of the world all by itself, but it’s a bad sign as to what ideas are being inculcated to young people in our culture.

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  30. superdestroyer says:

    In today’s New Haven Register, it was reported that Jericho does actually pitch in another league with kids his age and older and his average. However, the quote was that Jericho is the star of the developmental league since all of the other kids with ability have move up and are playing with kids of the same ability.

    this reminds me of the teenagers who want to play basketball with the 10 y/o’s so that they can be the star.

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  31. AZtraveler says:

    Let him play, he is gifted. Are we teaching our kids they should only be mediocre and not to try their best? Is too bad the opposing team forfeited, because that is teaching kids to quit and not even try. What if Tiger Woods was told this when he was Jericho’s age? Is too bad this is happening in America.

    What a privilege it would be to play against him. Just think if your 9 year old could get a hit off Jericho even after trying many times. It would be something your child would remember and feel proud of for many, many years.

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  32. Couch Chris says:

    WOW!!! This is ridiculous. He is nine years old people! We should be praising him, not punishing him, because he’s better than everyone else on the field. It’s this kind of thing that cause’s our young people to have so many problems later on in life. What amazes me, is that no one has asked the question about his hitting ability. Yes he can throw the ball 40mph, but can he hit a 40mph + pitch??? It is not right for adults to tell this child that he can not play baseball because he’s to good for his age. Moving him up a level is not going to do him any good either if “HE” can’t hit the pitches that are coming at him. I hate to use this example, but I have no choice. This years Olympic Games. The Chinese Gymnastics team (woman’s) is being accused of having “UNDER” aged athletes on there team. The only people complaining about it is the United States. Why is that? These girls have extra ordinary talent for there age. Wait!, I know why… 2. reasons. 1. because we had our ass’s handed to us by a country that we as a nation don’t feel is as good as we are, and 2. Because there are RULES!!! that state that they had to be at least 16 yrs to compete. Well just like little league baseball, there are age groups. These are the rules that we as adults imposed on little league. Now we want to change them to suit our own beliefs of fairness???? That is stupid!!! This kid is phenominall!!! His couch and his parents should be outraged at this garbage. You have an exceptional athelete. They should be nurturing his ability, not depriving him of it. If they moved him up a level or two, then he will just be an average player. Is this what we want to teach our children?, to just be average??? If that is the case then we are a sad people indeed. The parents of the other children should just stop whinning and let the kids play ball. Doesn’t sound like to me, that anyone interviewed the other players to get there opinion. Don’t you think it would be important to find out what they had to say or what they want? You would be surprised…… If anyone took the time to find out.

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  33. Coach Bill says:

    As I figured, this is not a Little League ™ league, nor is it a Babe Ruth League’s ™ Cal Ripken Division league, as Greg above mentions (by way of comparison) – it’s independent of either of these two associations.

    I refer you to this opinion piece which appears to contain more facts.

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