UTICA, N.Y. — Two Oneida County American Legion teams plan to appeal punishments resulting from a brawl during a July playoff game at Murnane Field.
Coaching representatives for New Hartford Post 1376 and Whitestown Post 1113 said their organizations will appeal some of the findings of the American Legion Department of New York Baseball as a result of the teams’ July 26 melee during the District V championship game.
The state governing body has barred both teams from the 2014 district playoffs, placed their coaching personnel on probation for next season, and suspended five players, two from New Hartford Post — one for six games, one for three— and three from Whitestown Post — two indefinitely for “malicious unsportsmanlike conduct” and one for nine games.
The state organization also recommended the teams perform joint community service.
Whitestown Post manager Paul Engelhart, a former Herkimer County Community College assistant coach, said he will not contest the probation for the coaching staff. He does plan to file four separate appeals for the postseason ban and for Whitestown Post’s suspended players.
“It’s more in line with the player suspensions and team suspensions, and they will be filed separately,” Engelhart said. “That’s our plan as of right now.”
New Hartford Post assistant coach John Randall said he was notified of the state’s decisions Monday.
“We are in the process of an appeal, and it’s in the early stages obviously,” he said. “We’ll see where it goes from here.”
American Legion Department of New York Baseball Chairman Bruce Mayfield said the appeal process will begin at the district level and then be forwarded back to him. Mayfield handed down the punishments in October with input from the Department of New York Baseball Committee.
Mayfield will respond to the appeal and forward the information to the American Legion national headquarters in Indianapolis.
Mayfield said there is no timetable for any decisions on the appeals. He said he does not expect a resolution before the beginning of the year.
“I’m not going to change our decision,” Mayfield said. “I write a response to the appeal, and I have to forward it to the national office. What they’re going to do is they will take a look at what we presented and if there’s a mistake or if we overstepped our bounds, then that’s their prerogative and they’ll notify me.”
Mayfield, Engelhart and Randall Wednesday would not reveal the names of the players involved.
The Observer-Dispatch previously reported that witnesses to the altercation said it began with pushing and shoving at home plate between New Hartford Post batter Matt Desens and Whitestown Post catcher Collin Stewart.
The father of Desens — Peter Desens of New Hartford — is scheduled to appear in Utica City Court Dec. 12 on charges of endangering the welfare of a child and harassment.
Page 2 of 2 - Stewart was ejected, and the dugouts quickly emptied onto the field. City police then were called to the scene. Police at the time said Peter Desens grabbed a 14-year-old player who was engaged in a scuffle with another player.