N.J. man charged with assault for attacking player sent to retrieve foul ball

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

In one of the most surreal twists to a high school baseball game in recent memory, a high school senior who went onto private property neighboring his school's baseball field to retrieve a foul ball was assaulted by the man who lived in the adjoining house.

The Union Catholic baseball team in action — BeRecruited
The Union Catholic baseball team in action — BeRecruited

In what could have doubled as an outtake from the 1993 movie "The Sandlot," an unspecified senior baseball player for Scotch Plains (N.J.) Union Catholic High was sent to bring back a foul ball which landed beyond the outfield fence during his team's senior day game against Plainfield (N.J.) High. Yet, as soon as he neared the ball, the player was attacked by the man who lived at the house, 44-year-old Michael Bennett.

According to MyCentralJersey.com, Bennett grabbed the Union Catholic player by the neck and wrist, then, "grabbed the ball and told him to get off his property."

Union Catholic baseball coach Jim Reagan Jr. quickly came to his player's defense, screaming for Bennett to let the player go.  Bennett complied. But MyCentralJersey reported that the player was left with visible scratches. Scotch Plains police were quickly called to the scene, and Bennett was arrested, charged with assault and later released from police custody.

"I recall yelling 'Sir, stop it! Get your hands off of him!'" Reagan told MyCentralJersey. "I had to run through the Plainfield dugout to get to the scene.

"He [the player retrieving the foul ball] definitely showed restraint. I think he was probably more shocked than anyone. And I want to commend Scott [Gleichenhaus, the Plainfield varsity coach] and his team and coaches, because they were excellent in this situation as well. They offered their full support."

While no additional news about future court proceedings involving Bennett were made available, Reagan said that he had never encountered any incidents remotely like the one that occurred in the Plainfield game in more than a decade at the school.

"No doubt about it: It was the most surreal experience I've had in 11 years as a baseball coach," Union Catholic assistant principal and varsity baseball coach Jim Reagan Jr. said Monday. "But the kid is fine. I think other than being shocked and surprised at what occurred, he's OK."

Want more on the best stories in high school sports? Visit RivalsHigh or connect with Prep Rally on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

What to Read Next