Coach Kupfer shares his side of the story
I have sat silently listening to all the talk about the district tournament last weekend.
First of all, I want to stop the rumor that I "head butted" or intentionally "spit" on the umpire, and the cops came and pulled me off the field. These are just a couple of the rumors that are going around, and they seem to keep getting more distorted as time goes by.
I take full responsibility for getting ejected from the ballgame; it shouldn't have happened on my part, and I apologize for my conduct. I argued an interference call at second base, which I believe was a very bad call by the base umpire. We ended up getting in each other's faces and he then ejected me from the game, which he has a right to do. I did have some words for him after the ejection, and again, I apologize for that.
I went to the bench and he told me I had to leave. I again obeyed, and took a seat across the road at an adjacent softball field and watched the game from there. After about an inning, the tournament director came over to me and asked if I was okay and he if he needed to call the cops.
I said, "I'm fine, and heavens no, why would you?"
He said OK, and then said the umpire thought I was texting my assistant coach. I told him I was not coaching from my phone. I did use my cell phone, but I was texting someone who was not present at the game.
I truly believe the umpires used that inaccurate assumption to penalize me further and for more justification to not allow me to coach the championship game. I know that there are many very good umpires out there, but as always, there are some that are not qualified to be in those positions.
This is just my opinion in my 40-some years of being a player and a coach.
After the game ended, I went into the dugout and was congratulating the players and assistant coach when someone said a police officer drove in behind our dugout and the umpire was talking to him/her. Shortly after that, the tournament director came over to me and said I wouldn't be able to coach the next game.
I asked him, "Who decided that?"
He said the umpires and the district director. I then told my assistant coach and players that I couldn't be in the dugout for the next game and would watch from the same spot. A couple of the players questioned the director about who made the decision not to allow me to coach, and he said the umpires did. At that point they said, "If you can't coach, we aren't playing."
As this was all happening, as I was leaving the dugout, I did tell the players it was their decision. The players then proceeded to pack up their equipment and load it into our vehicles. We then left the field.
Sometimes we would love to have a 'do-over' in life. This is one of those times for me.
Looking back now, I wish we would have played the final game. We have such a great bunch of boys on our team.
I am very passionate when it comes to baseball. Everything happened very quickly and I didn't stop to take the time to think about it. The players were simply standing up for me and did not think it was right that I sit out another game. I truly admire these boys for their loyalty to me, and they thought they were doing what was right at that moment, even though it meant forfeiting their chance to go to state.
I have heard the talk, and read the editorials in the paper recently about poor sportsmanship from area baseball players. Please don't label this bunch of kids as poor sports - they are true champions in character.
In my recollection, besides this incident, there was only one other instance where some words were exchanged between one of my players and an umpire over the many years I have coached. And what you didn't see was when that player took it upon himself to go up to that umpire before the next game, apologize for his actions, and exchange handshakes and move on.
That is an example of good sportsmanship, not bad.
Throughout the tournament, this team lost their first game and came back to win four straight games, even without some of their key players at each game, and only nine players in every game.
In the end, we were out of pitchers, tired and still persevered. If that doesn't show talent, loyalty, dedication, and perseverance from a team, I don't know what does. It was an awesome performance and I am VERY proud of these young men!
I have coached most of these guys since they were in Little League, and together we have learned many lessons on and off the field. This is just another one of those, and we're never too old to learn life lessons.
Lastly, I apologize to all baseball fans. I believe 'true' sportsmanship comes when you can make a mistake, apologize and learn from those mistakes, and move on and keep your head high in adversity.
We see this even in the Big Leagues, and we still look to them as heroes; because even our heroes have to be humbled sometimes.