Friday, June 4, 2004

PTC youth coach cited for tripping baseball player

Coach suspended for remainder of season by league officials


A Peachtree City youth baseball coach has been charged with disorderly conduct after he intentionally tripped a player from the opposing team during a hotly contested game Tuesday night, police said.

Fred Murphy, 56, of 204 Crown Point, was issued the citation after several witnesses said he tripped player Andrew Cyrus, 18, as the Lugnuts and Aeros switched sides at the end of an inning, said Police Chief James Murray.

Murphy, who coached for the Lugnuts, has also been suspended from the Peachtree City Big League for the rest of the season, said Linda North, the district administrator for Little League in the south metro Atlanta area. The Big League, which is for youths ages 16-18, is supervised by North.

Officers were summoned to the South Highway 74 baseball and soccer complex at 9:20 p.m. after one witness became worried about the rising tension between the two teams, particularly after the tripping incident, Murray said.

The game was a Big League matchup featuring players between 16 and 18 years old, officials said.

Several witnesses told police that Murphy took several steps before sticking out his foot as Cyrus went back to his team’s dugout along the third base line, Murray said.

Murphy denied tripping the player, saying they collided accidentally and Cyrus spilled to the ground because Murphy was physically bigger than Cyrus was, according to his police statement.

Cyrus told police he fell to the ground face-first and when he rolled over to look at Murphy, the coach glared at Cyrus to “intimidate him,” Murray said.

Witnesses told police that tension between the teams had risen during several points in the game. Moments before the altercation between Murphy and Cyrus, the inning had ended with a play at home plate, ending a rally by Murphy’s team, Murray said.

North said she investigated the matter further Wednesday before deciding to suspend Murphy for the rest of the season. She got statements from parents and several coaches from teams not involved in the contest who watched the game and saw the incident occur; all four persons said the act was intentional, North said.

Murphy has the right to appeal the suspension, North said. He has been notified of the decision by e-mail and the manager of the team has also been notified, North added Thursday afternoon. Murphy will also receive an official letter in the mail, she said.

All volunteer coaches and managers in the league are subject to background checks, North said.

“There was no reason for me to believe or think that I would have had a problem,” she added.

Such conduct has no place in the local five-team league, which is governed by a code of conduct that is supplied to each coach and manager, North said.

“This is nothing that our program condones,” North said. “... It is just not conducive to a good program.”

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