Baseball is an international sport that embraces all cultures and languages. Too bad a high school umpire in New Mexico didn't get the memo.
The Albuquerque Journal (via Deadspin) reports Gadsden High School players speaking Spanish were told by an umpire that anyone continuing to speak anything but English would be thrown out of Tuesday's game in Alamogordo.
Corey Jones, the umpire working first base, told players, "Anyone who speaks Spanish—coaches or players—will be ejected."
That's when Panthers assistant coach, Emmanuel Burciaga, stepped in to support his players and the manner they choose to converse with one another.
Burciaga said he told Jones, “Our players will not stop speaking Spanish, and they will not be ejected.”
He said Jones then “came walking toward me and said, ‘Another word from you, Coach, and you will be ejected.’ ”
The home plate umpire, who is bilingual, intervened in the mid-game conflict and told Jones there was no rule prohibiting players from speaking Spanish on the field, Burciaga said.
How should Corey Jones be punished?
The report goes on to note Jones was furious when the home plate ump offered that there was no rule banning any language such as Spanish.
Gadsden would go on to lose the game to Alamogordo, but are reportedly launching a far more serious fight as they filed a formal complaint against the umpire.
At the heart of the complaint is the hope that nothing like this happens in the future.
Dusty Young, associate director of the NMAA (New Mexico Activities Association), said the organization will investigate the incident if a complaint is received. The NMAA executive director would have the final say on disciplinary action if any is deemed warranted, Young said.
“I’m not trying to get him (Jones) fired,” Burciaga said. “My goal is to educate the person.”
Burciaga would continue, "Things like this shouldn’t happen on the baseball field. If we don’t say anything, it’s bound to happen again, and that’s what we want to prevent."
I would imagine Jones would be used to Spanish-speaking players, because the report states the school district rests near the Mexican border and is "97 percent Hispanic."
Although Jones was unavailable for comment, the report explains his concern: that players were berating or cursing the other team in Spanish.
Baseball, more than any American sport, is becoming far more diverse. A 2012 NBC Sports report cited the tremendous growth in Latin American players in the Major Leagues.
If you don't enjoy the manner in which the sport is becoming multicultural, I can't help you."Look away" might be the only advice I can offer, because it's already happened. You can see it in the growth of the World Baseball Classic, particularly with the tournament's popularity in Asia and Latin America.
If American high school students choose to speak Spanish to one another, they should be allowed to do so without any sort of reprimand.
The counter argument, of course, is that this is America, and those boys need to learn English. But nobody is saying they don't understand or can't speak English. They just choose to express themselves in their first language while playing the sport they love.
This is indeed America, a place where you are free to speak in whatever manner you like. Colloquialisms, slang and the language you speak at home are all under an umbrella of free speech.
If you can't embrace the diversity that makes this country, and one of its national pastimes, maybe you should just stick to calling balls and strikes.