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Albany little league team refuses to play

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May 12, 2008

Albany -- Controversy on the baseball diamond is not unheard of, especially this day in age. But the controversy surrounding a recent off-the-field incident involving a parent could have a major effect on the remaining season for several little league players.

"We have 65 kids that have been displaced from playing at our local ballpark - namely 8th Avenue. As you see, our kids range from ages 4 to 14 years of age. I think the public needs to know how a decision from an administration can affect not only these particular kids, but a community," said President of PRIDE Youth Sports Patrick Wise.

The decision stems from a comment made by a parent on April 10th, who according to witnesses, told her child on the Flint River team to beat up a player on the Albany National team.

"The child picked up a baseball bat and preceded to go after the child. Our vice president overheard this and told the child to put the bat down. This is why we're upset about it, because this was not someone throwing sand or kicking dirt or something like that. It got to the point if someone wasn't there, if someone had not heard this and had not seen this, then that child could have been in the hospital," said Jon Lesieur, President of Albany National.

The parent involved was suspended from attending any Albany national game, but could attend Flint River games for the rest of the season. Now, Albany National is refusing to play Flint River for remainder of the season.

"If I wanted to damage someone's league, I would refuse to play a team so they wouldn't get their 12 games. I'm not saying that's the case, but there are a lot of different undertones, even racial, that's caused this decision to be made," says Wise.

But Lesieur feels this not a racial issue, but instead one that involves the safety of the players

He says, "Our ballpark feels that we've done everything we can do. We've got to protect our children. The protection of our children and our parents is first and foremost. And we do not feel that Flint River is looking out for the best interest of our children as well as their safety."

Officials from both sides will be meeting Monday to discuss this matter further when the Albany Parks and Recreation Department holds a hearing at 3 p.m.

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