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.