American Legion baseball coach suspended for reporting a game that never took place

Cameron Smith

As president of an American Legion Baseball district, there are few things that Jeffrey Kovaleski could do to land himself in official hot water. Incredibly, he managed to cross one of those few tangible lines on the final day of June: He completely fabricated a game and reported it to the local newspaper as if it had actually happened.

As a result, Kovaleski was suspended from all American Legion activities for the rest of the season, and possibly much longer.

Suspended American Legion coach Jeffrey Kovaleski — Facebook
Suspended American Legion coach Jeffrey Kovaleski — Facebook

Here's how Kovaleski's big mistake unfolded, as reported in the Scranton Times-Tribune and discovered by journalism blogger Jim Romesko, among others: The president of American Legion District 11 in the Scranton, Pa., area, Kovaleski also serves as the coach of his hometown Dickson City American Legion Post, number 665. After the Moscow, Pa., post forfeited a game against Dickson City on June 30, Kovaleski decided to phone in a fake box score from the game to the Times-Tribune. You can see the actual fake box score that phone interview produced right here.

Unsurprisingly, the coach and president got caught in his fake game scheme, with plenty of people noting that no game between the two posts had actually taken place as scheduled on that Saturday. The discrepancy was quickly noted by American Legion officials, who wasted little time in reprimanding the coach.

"He has been suspended from involvement with American Legion Baseball indefinitely for a period no less than the rest of 2012," George Roskos, Region 5 Director of the Pennsylvania American Legion, told the Times-Tribune. "The result should have been reported as a forfeit."

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Kovaleski doesn't dispute that he should have reported the game as a forfeit. What he does dispute is that he was willingly trying to do anything wrong. Rather, the Dickson City resident insists he was trying to save the Moscow players the embarrassment that comes with being responsible for a forfeit.

Yet, while Kovaleski was apparently attempting to spare blushes for an opponent, he was simultaneously causing them for some of his own players. As noted by NBC Sports' Rick Chandler, the Post 665 coach gave two of his players mythical 0-for-3 performances at the plate.

One would think that Kovaleski would have inflated all his players' stats if he was producing a fake game, just to boost their egos. That clearly wasn't the case.

"Being the president of the league, I did not want to embarrass anyone or hurt any kid's feelings," Kovaleski told the Times-Tribune. "I am very remorseful about doing it."

Whether or not a goal of sparing a foe embarrassment is legitimate logic is up for individual interpretation. For his part, the Moscow general manager insisted that his squad knew nothing about the fake box score shenanigan.

Regardless, the decision ruled Kovaleski out from the playoffs, a punishment he surely would have been desperate to avoid when he initially called the newspaper.

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