Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) umpire Brian Kennedy apologized in a telephone interview Sunday for putting his hand on the neck of a manager who bumped him after being ejected from a game last week. Kennedy told the Taipei Times his gut reaction at that moment was to keep the manager at arm’s length because he thought he was about to be punched.
“I one hundred percent regret the action of putting my hand up to his throat,” Kennedy, 38, said. “There’s no question about that. It is not professional, and I apologize to the team, to the league, to the fans, to my family, to everyone involved. This is not me. This is not how I operate.”
Kennedy, a North Carolina native who is serving a 10-game suspension, decided to break his silence about the Sept. 5 incident involving EDA Rhinos’ interim manager Huang Chiung-lung (黃煚隆), who as a player was suspended in 1993 for assaulting an American umpire, after reading “a lot of incorrect reporting” about their physical exchange.
Kennedy, who said he is willing to meet with Huang to exchange apologies, maintains he did not grab Huang’s throat or choke him, but said he was just trying to prevent the situation from escalating further and to avoid getting hit.
“It’s really heart-wrenching that my four years in Taiwan come down to this particular incident,” Kennedy said. “Instigated by him, but again, not really handled correctly by myself, and I’m truly upset about this.”
Reached by telephone in Arizona Sunday, John Lipsey, the American umpire attacked by Huang in 1993, said that although he had not seen the video, any umpire who is physically confronted by a player or coach should try to walk away.
“If you’re getting bumped, it’s tough,” Lipsey said. “You don’t want anyone touching you, and you don’t want to throw gas on the fire. I can understand how he might have done it, but you really can’t do it.”
Kennedy, in an e-mail Monday, elaborated on his reaction to Huang, saying, “Again, if I run away here, I will have lost all respect from any player, manager, coach, or front-office personnel, and even my fellow umpires from this league and any league I ever umpire for again.”
The CPBL declined to comment on questions about Kennedy, referring instead to a press release issued Sept. 6.
The incident, which was televised and whose video has gone viral on the Internet, began in the bottom of the fourth inning, during a game between the EDA Rhinos and Brother Elephants, when Kennedy called a balk on Rhinos pitcher Lin Chen-hua (林晨樺). After the runner on first was sent to second base, Huang and his translator are seen in the video approaching Kennedy, who was standing at home plate.
Lost in translation?
“He was yelling in Chinese as he was walking out,” said Kennedy, who does not understand Mandarin. “What I got from the interpreter was, ‘Why?’ ‘Why?’ ‘Why?’ or something to that effect, but also in a tone that was not really, I guess for lack of better term, respectful.”
Kennedy said he told the interpreter he would answer Huang’s questions, but said Huang first had to calm down.
“I couldn’t really understand the interpreter much because [Huang] would not stop,” he said.
Wanting to get the game started again, Kennedy said he told Huang and the interpreter he was done discussing the call. Kennedy can be seen in the video putting his mask back on and waiting near home plate as the interpreter speaks to Huang. Moments later, Kennedy can then be heard in the video telling the interpreter, “If he doesn’t leave now, I’m going to eject him.”