Forfeiture stands, Gamberg suspended 20 games

John Browne
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Despite disagreeing with umpire’s call, league will not reverse decision, but levies steep penalty for abuse of official

Bill Barron

3Cheers Pub second baseman Shane Gamberg has been suspended for 20 games and the Molson St. John’s Senior Softball League has upheld the forfeiture of Tuesday night’s controversial semifinal game, league secretary-treasurer Bill Barron said Wednesday.

The opening game of the best-of-seven final between Imagewear Custom Apparel (ICA) and Bull & Finch Bar & Grill is scheduled for seven o’clock tonight after Imagewear was awarded Tuesday night's deciding semifinal contest by home plate umpire Keith Pender.

Barron said while the league had no grounds to reverse Pender’s decision to hand Imagewear the win, “We don’t agree with it and we think there was no call for it.”ICA and 3Cheers Pub Bud Light were tied 3-3 in the top of the seventh inning in the fifth and deciding game of the best-of-five series at Lions Park when things took an unexpected, ugly turn.

With the game tied after six innings, ICA left fielder Danny Mullins led off the top of the seventh with a ground ball to short and was called safe at first base by base umpire Terry Sweeney.

3Cheers players didn't agree with the call, including pitcher Lee Cose who said to Sweeney, among other things, that his decision was “brutal,” after which Pender ejected him from the game.

3Cheers coach John Hill then started arguing with Pender, admitting he was “quite loud” in getting in his two cents worth across.“I gave him an earful and probably not enough because, in my opinion, what he did to us was premeditated. “What went on last (Tuesday) night was a new low,” said Hill.

Hill said he had no problem with getting tossed from the game. “I should have been tossed out. But it’s my job to pick up for my pitcher.”

As Hill left the field he picked up four bats and tossed them over his shoulder.

Pender, in an e-mail to senior league representatives, said the bats were thrown in the direction of both umpires.

At that point, “As the game was no longer safe, the game was forfeited,” said Pender.Pender said there were “unsportsmanlike circumstances” that led to three ejections (Cose, Hill and Gamberg) and to ICA ultimately being awarded the win.

Hill, while acknowledging bats were thrown, noted, “The bats that came unto the field landed on the dugout side of third base and the scrum and all of the nonsense was going on by first base.”Gamberg’s suspension stems from an incident immediately after the game was forfeited.

Pender said Gamberg ran toward him and he was pushed backwards “with great force.

”The plate umpire said ICA players intervened and quickly removed Gamberg, who, despite being held back, continued to work his way through teammates and grabbed the umpire a second time.“Physical abuse of an official cannot be tolerated at any time, even if the game is forfeited,” said Pender.

Article 28 of the league bylaws states: “When a player is ejected from the game, he must leave the dugout area immediately. Failure to leave within a minute or reasonable amount of time will result in the team forfeiting the game.

“You can be ejected from a game, without warning, for swearing or using vulgar language; disputing the umpire’s judgement, throwing equipment, assault of an umpire (verbal or physical).”

It also mentions that “all physical assaults are to be reported to the police.

”The 20-game suspension handed down was not an arbitrary number, according to Barron.Abuse of officials — verbal or physical — calls for a 20-game suspension.“We didn’t make the number up,” noted Barron.“I don’t condone his actions and he (Gamberg) doesn’t either,” said Hill, who added that it was all done out of total frustration with the umpiring.

That said, Hill didn’t mince any words in his assesment of Pender’s performance “Again, I’m not condoning the actions of Shane Gamberg, but when you’ve got an umpire who has an absolute hate for (him) and an umpire who pulls a stunt like he did last night (Tuesday) what does one expect?”

Hill went on to say trouble “has been brewing for some time and when fuel is continuously being thrown into a fire you get an explosion and that's exactly what Pender did last (Tuesday) night.

“The stories are endless of his tactics that seemingly go unchallenged time after time,” said Hill.

“Mr. Pender had no right to eject Lee Cose for a comment that was made to Mr. Sweeney — a comment, I might say, that was said to him at least 20 times during the game that he chose to ignore. But again, Pender has to step up to the plate and play hero again,”

Hill said.Hill also claimed Sweeney didn’t make a single right call in the close situations in the entire game “for either side.”In the meantime, Hill said he wants a hearing before tonight’s game because he maintains Pender had no authority to forefit the game“

The game is not over and I’ve asked my players to be down at the field tonight in uniform. We fully expect to finish the game.

”Before the league handed down its decision on Gamberg, Pender had warned that unless the Metro Umpires Association got a hearing on Gamberg by noon today, “The association will not be available for work in the opening game of the final this evening.

”Pender told The Telegram Wednesday night he was satisfied with the league’s ruling on Gamberg.

“The actions at that game were very explosive,” said Pender. “He (Gamberg) hit me hard enough to knock me backwards and physical abuse calls for at least 20 games according to the bylaws. “If anything,” added Pender, “it should be longer.”

Errors in this story have been corrected to identify 3Cheers coach John Hill.

Organizations: Softball League, Metro Umpires Association

Geographic location: Lions Park

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Recent comments

  • Former Player
    September 29, 2012 - 17:36

    I like the Former Player Living Away comments!! Umpires will always make mistakes, but then again they are not earning a $1,000.00 per game, but a mere fraction of that, giving up several hours of free time every day. Players make errors, swing at pitches over their head and simply play poorly at times, but nothing is said. Umpires don't always have great games either, yet every pitch or play is critical in the eye of the beholder. If you want to get yelled at, screamed at, and always get criticized each and every day on the field without any thanks at all then become a target and sign up to be an umpire. I'd like to see some of these co called top level players step up and give it a try... Why not say thanks to these umpires from time to time! Respect goes both way and needs to be earned!

  • Former Player living away
    September 29, 2012 - 07:00

    Gamberg is a mouth piece. Always has been. Pender has been putting up with abuse for years, but he is a crappy umpire and deserves a lot of criticism. But criticism within the rules. The people involved are acting like children. Get a clue. The player's and coaches are supposed to be men, how about they act like it. If Pender chooses to act out of spite, let him. If your team has any integrity they will man up, and win in spite of bad calls. All good teams do. It's a shame that Hill decides to voice publicly how vengeful Pender is. Give me a break. Hill sounds like a child. Stick up for your players, that's your job. But don't go crying about how Pender has it out for you and your team. Pender shouldn't have kicked Cose out for something as harmless as an off hand comment such as "brutal". Pender is a dodgy ump, but at least he shows up. He, and other umpires all over the world put up with a lot of abuse. But without these guys the game wouldn't go on. So man up, lick your wounds, and move on. It's only a game, and there's no room for this level of childishness. PS, Gamberg is just mad cuz he's bald.

  • Johnny Fastball
    September 28, 2012 - 15:43

    Fireworks down at the Lions Park! It wouldn't be fall in NL without them. Bunch of grown men acting like children. Grown men talking about vendettas by umpires, screaming obscenities at each other and throwing bats. General assaults on top of all of it. Days of Our Lives got nothing on this nonsense. Pender is nobody's favourite umpire by a long shot but you know what you are going to get. He's been at his foolishness for years. You have to deal with adversity in life and people you don't get along with. Play ball for goodness sakes, too many good fellas and great ballplayers down there to be dragged down by this stuff.

  • Ashamed
    September 27, 2012 - 18:36

    I'm not even quite sure how to respond to some of these comments. All I can assume as that those of you blaming all of this non-sense on the umpire, must not have ever played any sort of sport yourselves. If you did, you would understand that being kicked out of a game, is no one's fault but your own. Refs and umps are not going to be perfect. Rarely do softball players have "perfect" games, so don't expect the umps to either. Mr. Pender, along with all of the other umps deserve medals. The crap that they put up with on a regular basis from "boys" that like to call themselves men is unbelievable. I think what sickens me the most is the fact that a lot of the softball players that show such disrespectful behavior to the umps and themselves, have children of their own. What model behavior to be displaying for their children. Absolutely terrible.

    • Jack
      September 28, 2012 - 08:19

      Have you not seen abaseball game on TV when there are arguments all the time and not just in front of 15 or 20 people but millions. It's a part of the game. As for being over 40 yrs old you are very wrong, most of the players are young men. Also I guess you have never sat on your patio and had a beer or two in front of your children. If you had spent anytime at all down at the field you would clearly see who the problem is. In most other leagues they remove the problem however this leagues chose not to and that is unfortunate. Remember just because you wear the blue uniform doesn't mean automatic repect. That is something you have to earn and these umpires down there have failed miserably. What happened down there was wrong nobody doubts that but when it is precipated by by the very people in charge what does one expect.. Nobody is happy with what happened and simply throwing a band aid over the problem is not going to work. This won't be the last time you will be reading about these types of incidents and this is very sad.

  • melblanks
    September 27, 2012 - 16:10

    Give me a break the real problem with this so call league begins with the name M O L S O N S mens softball league. When is it right to see men over 40 playing in a public area slopped drunk cursing and making all kinds remarks, to the umpires and each other. In any other province this would not happen. Lets see if you can take your young family down to a game I bet you would leave in minutes. As far as the suspension goes He was more than deserving of the suspension.Children learn from adults what did the childen learn from this game..... cry wine and scream like a baby maybe you can force the people in power to agree with u all of the time.

    • RightOn
      September 28, 2012 - 20:16

      Have you ever heard of a sponsorship? Molson's sponsors the league. And the guys are not slopped drunk, as you would call it, when they are playing. These men take the game very seriously and clearly you have never seen a game to even insinuate that. Plus, the guys playing the game are mostly in their 20's and 30's. Next time you decide to put down a league you clearly know nothing about, go down to the field and actually watch a game.

  • Beeds
    September 27, 2012 - 14:29

    I was at the game and what I saw was a classless display by the 3 cheers players and coaches. Mr. Pender done the right thing when he called the game. At one point there were at least four players in his ear making very loud vulgar statements. These umpires let the players and coaches away with to much in my opinion. There should more ejections and suspensions throughout the season and maybe the players would begin to show the umpires a little respect. 3 cheers has no one to blame for there loss but themselves for the classless acts they displayed on the field Tuesday night.

  • Softball Fan
    September 27, 2012 - 13:15

    For all of those complaining of umpiring why don't you put on the blue yourself and give it a shot. These guys good or bad invest a lot of time and effort to help ensure the city has a league. Not easy coming to the field every night knowing someone will have something negative to say and it doesn't matter whose umping, it ALWAYS happens. Nothing wrong with arguing a call but do you need 15 guys to do it? That's what coaches are for. It's a men's league sometimes players have to remember to act like it.

  • CBS'er
    September 27, 2012 - 08:43

    No matter what happens, assault should NEVER be tolerated, and stiff penalities should be assigned. However, if trouble is constantly following one umpire, then a bright light should flash in someone's head that makes them realize this person is causing a lot of grief. The same should be said for players, coaches etc. Maybe, just maybe, Mr. Pender should call it a day as far as his umpiring career is concerned. With all due respect, I recall him having problems in the late 80's when I was a softball official, and at the time wrote it off to immaturity and inexperience. I think all concerned should take a good lesson from this experience and put a plan in place to alleviate this problem before next season. Things will never be perfect, but umpires, coaches and players have to set a better example. Make no wonder the game is dying a slow death. I sincerely hope things improve.

  • Gus Karate
    September 27, 2012 - 08:34

    Pender ruined another game, what else is new. Nobody is condoning what Gamberg did, but Pender has irated more players in his career than Duey Fitz did. Pender and his counterpart should be held accountable for their actions. As a fan at the game, both made several incorrect calls that were not mentioned in this article. But then again, that's no surprise either.

  • The Wildman
    September 27, 2012 - 07:55

    I read this story until I reached the name Pender and stopped. He should not be allowed near a ballfield. For years he has felt that the fans in the stands were there to watch him. A chip on his shoulder since he put the uniform on. There isn't a player in that league that has good words to say about him. Try and find one Mr. Browne.

  • Jack
    September 27, 2012 - 07:47

    Sounds like Molson St. John’s Senior Softball League is suffering from "NFL Syndrome" where officials make bad calls and get away with it as the decision will stand. This move tarnishes the integrity of sports altogether, something similar to the NFL Game between the Seahawks and Packers three days ago. Maybe these Softball referees should get jobs with the NFL. One thing is for sure, if a referee makes a bad call in the CFL, he/she will be fired as they don't tolerate careless mistakes.

  • Eli
    September 27, 2012 - 07:46

    Homerism reigns. It'll never change in sports whether it's Terry Sweeney or Joe Paterno.

  • Seen it before
    September 27, 2012 - 07:40

    Poor Pender, always the victim. This is a total farce. These guys continue to lose control of the game and cant deal with what happens. I ve seen this guy call games on more than one occasion. They just want to be in the spotlight. Totally pathetic

  • Townie bayman
    September 27, 2012 - 07:32

    Relax everyone! It's only a game of ball.

  • Terry
    September 27, 2012 - 07:17

    Abuse of an official should be an automatic expulsion from the league!! Officials will make mistakes and that is all you can do... it can get heated but guys like this have to go... I'm sure there were young kids out their watching as well... be proud Gamberg.. Your a great role model!!!

    • Big red
      September 27, 2012 - 17:55

      Gamberg is all talk tried to fight him a few times just a mount peice....