A Florida father is now behind bars after he sucker punched and knocked out the 63-year-old umpire at his son’s high school baseball game last month.
“Jorge Aponte Gonzalez, 41, was arrested Wednesday and charged with battery on a sports official and disruption of a school function,” according to Pensacola station WEAR.
“The incident happened on April 18 at a Liberty High School baseball game in Osceola County. Sheriff Marcos Lopez held a press conference Wednesday to announce Gonzalez’s arrest,” the station reported Thursday.
During the press conference, Lopez revealed that Gonzalez’ son had been arguing with the umpire prior to the punch.
“The kid was being disruptive, so the umpire’s like, ‘Hey, tone it down,’ maintaining control. They went back and forth a little bit. I don’t know exactly what was exchanged, but… that is what upset the father,” he said, according to Orlando station WKMG.
When the umpire suddenly walked to a gate between innings, it’s at this point that Gonzalez reportedly bashed him in the back of the head as he was turned, knocking him out.
The problem is that, besides being 63, the umpire is also a disabled military veteran.
Gonzalez has tried to defend himself by arguing that he was just “defending” his son. Lopez wasn’t impressed.
“He said he was defending his kid. That’s no the way to defend your kid, there’s no reason for him to be acting this way. No parent should act like this in public,” he said during Wednesday’s press conference.
Gonzalez has since been released on a $1,500 bond.
“He’ll get his just reward for his nasty behavior. Sometimes adults act worse than kids,” Lopez said Wednesday in response to Gonzalez’ reported behavior.
As for the umpire, Lopez revealed that he was in “good spirits.”
“He has a son who’s in the Army, who has also a passion for baseball, wants to coach like him and umpire like him and said he hopes that he never has to go through this. He wants to make sure this guy never does this again to anybody,” the sheriff said.
Believe it or not, incidents like this happen somewhat regularly.
During a youth basketball game in King County, Washington held in January of 2022, one angry, large father reportedly standing 6’6″ and weighing over 200 pounds violently pushed a referee off the court.
“[O]ne of the players in a middle school basketball game shoved an opposing player with his shoulder. Immediately, teammates of the pushed player defended him and also pushed the first aggressor to the ground,” Marca reported at the time.
“Faced with these actions, one of the game’s referees appeared to call the fouls, tripping over the boy who had started the fight, which caused the minor’s dad to run up and violently push the 72-year-old official in the back,” according to the paper.
A dad in Washington state who’s 6’6″ and over 200 pounds assaults a 72-year-old referee at a middle school basketball game pic.twitter.com/61bH6LfxUV
— Fifty Shades of Whey (@davenewworld_2) January 5, 2022
The referee broke his nose and cheekbone when his face hit the floor. The angry father was subsequently hit with a second-degree assault charge and faced 10 years in prison.
A couple of months later in June of 2022, something similar happened during a youth baseball game in New Jersey. During the game, the umpire ejected one of the parent coaches for using bad language. In response, the coach decked him in the face, leaving him with a broken jaw and concussion, as reported by NJ.com.
Both the coach and his team were subsequently banned from the United States Amateur Baseball League (USABL).
“The environment for youth sports has become toxic. No one can lose a game anymore without blaming somebody else. We need to teach our kids that they’re not going to win every game they play and how to lose with respect for both their opponents as well as the officials on the game,” USABL president Brian Delahant said at the time.
In response to these seemingly never-ending attacks, last year New Jersey state Sen. Richard Codey, a Democrat, introduced a bill “that would upgrade certain types of assault against sports officials to aggravated assault, according to NJ.com.
Separately, state Assemblywoman Vicky Flynn said she was planning to add legislation “that would strengthen penalties for assaulting an official and add harassment charges for spectators found to be verbally tormenting referees.”
“What we’ve been doing to curb these bad acts obviously hasn’t been working and it’s time to put an end to it — to not only protect sports officials, but also kids who are caught in the middle,” Flynn told NJ.com.
“This is one of the top complaints and concerns of constituents since my appointment in January, and it is time to address these issues and make sports safe and fun for kids and young athletes again,” she added.
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