A bizarre story has unfolded in Nebraska, where one American Legion squad forfeited a state title game when six of its players were arrested for vandalism and possession of alcohol on a team trip, giving way for an opportunity for the de-facto champions to crown their achievement with a celebratory inning played against their fathers.
As reported by the Gering Citizen and Omaha ABC affiliate KETV, the Waverly Class B American Legion squad withdrew from the state American Legion tournament on the eve of the championship game when six of its teenaged players were arrested on vandalism and possession charges. Two players were seen attacking a mailbox with a bat near the Hampton Inn in which they were staying in Scottsbluff, Nebraska for the tournament, and neighborhood residents called local police after watching the teens flee the scene on foot. Further police investigation uncovered proof of the crime and additional evidence that indicated six of the team's players had imbibed alcohol as well.
As a result, Waverly American Legion coach Michael Goodrich pulled his team out of the state title game, handing over the Class B crown to Lancaster County rival Hickman-Norris in the process. Goodrich was incensed that his players had committed the crimes and that they had done so after breaking an 11:30 curfew when he had inspected all their rooms.
"It's really sad," Mike Hutchinson, director of the American Legion Class B state tournament told the Citizen. "First off, not only did it take away from the kids on the Waverly team that didn't do anything wrong, it took away from these [Hickman-Norris] kids being able to have a chance to win a championship game and have the emotions that go along with it."
Goodrich immediately informed Hutchinson and other Nebraska American Legion officials that his team would not have enough players to compete in the title game and therefore had to withdraw. The result was a series of decisions marked initially by mass confusion.
According to the Omaha World-Herald, American Legion officials first told Hickman-Norris that it would have to contend the championship game against Elkhorn-Mount Michael, a team that Hickman-Norris had eliminated the previous evening in the semifinals.
Then, the officials had second thoughts and decided that re-instating a team already eliminated via the traditional two-loss methods was unfair. Instead, they named Hickman-Norris the state champ and gave them a unique opportunity: They allowed the team to celebrate the win by playing an inning against their fathers.
The unique "game" concluded with a traditional dog pile on the mound and helped soothe some of the angst brought on by the fact that Hickman-Norris was cheated out of a championship game it had anticipated playing.
"I was kind of stun-gunned when I heard the news,'' Hickman-Norris coach Will Raftery told the World-Herald. "It was just really weird. Instead of deciding it on the field, I told our kids about it in the hotel lobby.
"[But playing against the fathers] was kind of neat, and we still got to have a dogpile,'' Raftery said. "But it was a bizarre day, all the way around."