On Sunday, a youth baseball game in Chicago turned ugly thanks to racist taunts and verbal abuse from the home team. The visiting team, the West Lawn Southwest Pride, is made up of Latino players, and were playing the Kennedy Park Cobras at their home field. The Chicago Sun-Times spoke to West Lawn players, coaches, and parents, who said that Kennedy Park players hurled racial slurs at the West Lawn team, and the coach went on a profanity-laden mid-game verbal tirade.
It started during warm-ups, before the game even began. Adrian Salazar, a 12-year-old West Lawn player, told the Sun-Times that members of the Kennedy Park team shouted “taco boys” at the West Lawn team as they were preparing for the game. But there was allegedly more than just pregame taunting involved.
They also allege that in a second incident, one of the Cobras told his teammates during a pep talk that they were going to “build a wall around home plate.”
During the game, a Kennedy player got hit on the elbow by a pitch and shouted an f-bomb. The players on West Lawn heard it and laughed, because kids who are 11 and 12 years old laugh at profanity. The Kennedy coach thought the kids were laughing at his player getting hit, and proceeded to unleash a swear-filled tirade at the West Lawn bench over the misunderstanding.
Juan Delgadillo, the coach of the West Lawn Southwest Pride, was not impressed.
“Today was a little different. I’ve never seen so much disrespect towards my kids as they were warming up. The image that the coach portrays is the image the players are going to have on the field. I heard some of the comments they were making and I saw my players eyes well up,” Delgadillo said.
Delgadillo also had words with the coach after the game.
“I told him after the game. You don’t talk to my kids. You talk to me. This is still little league baseball and we have rules to abide by.”
Adrian told the Sun-Times that everything he and his teammates experienced on Sunday was used as motivation to help them win the game.
“We went back to the dugout and told our coaches. We got mad and took that anger onto the field. We won,” Salazar said. “We discussed it. We wondered who would be that salty. We would never do that. We were angry, but then we calmed down.”
Adrian’s father, Ray Salazar, tweeted a picture as proof of the win.
The Kennedy Park Little League didn’t find out about what happened during the game until after news of it began appearing online. Kennedy Park Little League president Matt Winkler released a statement to the Sun-Times about the incident.
“Neither the umpire nor the coaches were aware of the situation until it surfaced online. In the wake of the claims, me and the league started an investigation into the situation. So far we’ve been unable to validate that the incident occurred. In light of this, coaches will be instructed to speak with their teams. We pride ourselves on being welcoming to other teams. We have a code of conduct online that we stand by so we are not done investigating the situation and any of the allegations against the coach or his behavior.”
For now, teams will get a talking-to about what happened. However, Winkler says there’s still more investigating to do, and according to the Kennedy Park code of conduct, real punishment could follow.
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