Wed, Sep 11, 2013 - Page 12 News List

Breaking the silence

In an exclusive interview with the ‘Taipei Times’, CPBL umpire Brian Kennedy says he regrets putting his hand around the throat of Huang Chiung-lung, but feels that the 10-game suspension that followed is a little excessive

By Chris Fuchs  /  Contributing reporter

Kennedy, who cannot read Chinese, said he was unaware that league policy prohibits officials from using cellphones after arriving at stadiums, adding that he had never been furnished with an English version of league policy after repeated requests.

Contrary to reports in many Chinese and English-language publications, Kennedy said he did not phone the police, but did speak to them afterwards about potentially filing a complaint. He also said he called his wife, who is Taiwanese, to let her know he was okay, and an English-speaking league official.

“It’s the harshest sentence handed down, and I’m not sure why it was so heavy,” Kennedy said. “They told me it was because of my hand being on the throat, but they have expressed to me that they could tell I was trying to defend myself.”

Kennedy, who spent 10 years in the American minor leagues before being released from Triple A in 2008, said that in addition to the fine and suspension imposed by the CPBL, he has also been barred from working this year’s championship games, which he said he has officiated for the last three years.

He also said he doubts the league will rehire him next year.

“Well, I don’t think there is a lot I can do to work here again in Taiwan,” Kennedy said, adding he would stay if given the chance. “At least I have the opportunity to set the record straight that I am not a bad person, and that it didn’t happen how it was recorded.”

If Kennedy’s contract in Taiwan is not renewed, he said he will look for work umpiring American college baseball and will continue instructing at the Wendelstedt Umpire School, a prestigious officiating academy in Florida where he has taught since 2001.

Kennedy added, however, that he has already prepared himself for the unavoidable barrage of questions that will follow from students.

“It’s pretty much inevitable since the video has gone viral,” he said. “It can be an excellent tool and a learning session. We always preach walk away, and we will continue to harp on that.”

The Wendelstedt Umpire School did not return a voicemail by press time seeking comment.

Roughed up

John Lipsey cannot remember ever ejecting a coach or player during his one season as a Chinese Professional Baseball League umpire in 1993. So when players from the now defunct Dragons (味全龍) including EDA Rhinos’ interim manager Huang Chiung-lung (黃煚隆) pummeled him from behind after he ended a game because of rain, Lipsey was completely caught by surprise.

“The American guys from both teams came out and kind of came to my rescue,” he said in a telephone interview Sunday. “I kind of got punched around that night.”

Professional umpires in the US spend years, sometimes decades, in Triple-A baseball hoping for a shot at the major leagues. For some, like Lipsey and Brian Kennedy, who was suspended last week for putting his hand on Huang’s throat, that journey often includes detours to countries in Asia and Latin America.

“I was asked if I would like to do it since I was on the cusp of going to the big leagues at the time,” Lipsey said.

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