01/31/05 — Caldwell protest against Garner to be heard

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Caldwell protest against Garner to be heard

Published in Sports on January 31, 2005 1:55 PM

LENOIR -- Nearly a month after a protest was filed by Caldwell County of Garner's North Carolina American Legion baseball championship the matter is set for a decision in Raleigh this Thursday.

The N.C. American Legion Baseball Committee, a five-member panel, is expected to hand down a ruling on the protest by Caldwell alleging that Garner used a player throughout the season who was ineligible to play for Garner.

Caldwell sites in the official filing that the player failed to comply with strict American Legion rules that require players to play for the team nearest their parent's permanent residence, as well as claiming the player in question had signed a declaration that bound him to another team.

The two teams met in the North Carolina championship. Garner was crowned Area One champion by defeating Wayne County, while Caldwell won the Area Four title.

Garner Post 232 defeated Caldwell Post 29 4-0 in the final game, after Caldwell had forced a deciding game with a 4-1 win over Garner earlier the same day in the finals of the N.C. American Legion Championship Tournament played this past August in Shelby.

Officials for the Caldwell County team say that the infractions were brought to their attention around the first of January and they appeared credible. Following an investigation, Caldwell immediately filed the protest stating there was overwhelming evidence of infractions.

Often governing bodies of sports are faced with ineligible player protests and American Legion Baseball has twice reversed the results of its own World Series. Once the championship team was replaced five months after its win when an illegal player was discovered to have played, and another time it was two years later that the World Series winner met the same fate for an ineligible player.

The N.C. High School Athletic Association, the NCAA, Little League Baseball and the AAU are some of the other organizations in recent years that have been faced with reversing results due to illegal players.

"The precedents are there to handle this," said Steve Bumgarner, Caldwell's athletics director. "We just ask the state baseball committee to apply the rules."

Caldwell had won four North Carolina American Legion Baseball championships going into 2004 with titles in 1986, 1990, 1991 and 2000. Garner took the state crown in 1999.

Courtesy Caldwell Post 29