Former Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams found himself on the field and amidst the action over the long weekend at the Canadian senior men’s fastpitch championship in St. Croix, N.S.
No, he wasn’t playing. You could say he was part of a scrum, different than the one he was used to in politics.
Williams is sponsor of the Galway Hitmen, who went 9-0 in steamrolling their way to a title. Their final two wins came over the Sooke, B.C., Loggers; the Hitmen claimed the crown with an 8-0 victory Sunday after having shut out the British Columbia entry 7-0 Saturday.
In the latter game, the benches cleared twice, the first time in the opening inning after Hitmen baserunner Mathieu Roy collided with pitcher Scott Lieph as the latter moved to cover the plate after a wild pitch. Roy, running from third, was eventually ruled out on the play, although Lieph, who was well on the third-base side of home plate when he was hit by Boland, had dropped the ball, leading the umpire to initially call Roy safe.
Loggers’ catcher Kyle Cowick’s went after Roy, which prompted the Hitmen, including Stephen Mullaley, who was up to bat at the time, and baserunner Blair Ezekiel to come to the defence of their teammate.
Punches were thrown in the resulting brouhaha, which saw the benches empty, with players and coaches conglomerating between the first-base line and Sooke dugout. Among those who found themselves on the field was Williams, although video shows he came onto the scene late in the happenings and wasn’t involved in any of the physical exchange. In fact, a number of observers suggested Williams was acting as more of a peacemaker in the matter.
Still, Loggers’ manager John Bishop objected, saying “(Williams) had no business doing because he was not a coach or manager and was not in uniform.”
Williams is listed by the Hitmen as their general manager as well as their sponsor.
As a result of the incident, Roy, Cowick and Ezekiel were ejected from the game.
In third inning, Lieph threw an inside pitch to Newfoundland catcher Ryan Boland, who took objection and headed towards the mound, but the players were quickly separated.
Players left both benches again, but this time, no punches were thrown and Lieph was the only player ejected.
Bishop who claimed “Lieph was throwing an inside pitch but certainly not attempting to injure anyone whatsoever,” suggested the Hitmen had instigated the brawling and said, “the Loggers were not going to turtle from anyone.”
While Softball Canada issued a statement saying it didn’t condone the behaviour of the teams in Saturday’s game, it took no further disciplinary action, but did warn that anyone who left the bench in another game would be ejected from the tournament. The statement mentioned players and coaches only. All the ejected players were back on the field for Sunday’s final, which was played without incident.
With files from Dan Boyd/SaltWire Network/East Hants Journal