02/04/05 — State Legion title taken from Garner

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State Legion title taken from Garner

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on February 4, 2005 1:58 PM

At a closed door meeting Thursday in Raleigh, North Carolina Legion baseball Chairman Roy Waters and the four Area Commissioners stripped Garner of its 2004 N.C. State Tournament title for using an ineligible player.

Caldwell County, which lost to Garner in the finals of the state tournament in Shelby last summer, cited in the official filing in early January that a Garner player failed to comply with strict American Legion rules that require players to play for the team nearest their parents' permanent residence.

Caldwell also claimed the player in question had signed a declaration that bound him to another team.

The state champion for 2004 will be vacant as it was decided that no other teams would move up in position.

Garner defeated Wayne County in the Area I Championship series leading up to the state tournament. Despite the same illegal player participating in the series against Post 11, the Area I title will remain in Garner's possession and Post 232 will not have to forfeit any other games, nor suffer any monetary fines.

"We didn't address that issue (Area I) and as far as I know it will not be addressed. That wasn't what we were there for," Waters said during a telephone interview after the meeting. "The issue is the time limit. Any protest in area play must be filed within 24 hours of a game according to the state rule book."

Caldwell County, which issued the protest against Garner, was not without penalty on Thursday itself.

Waters and the four chairmen decided to penalize Caldwell Athletic Officer Steve Bumgardner for "breaking chain of command" during the protest.

"He's been suspended for one year for any participation in American Legion baseball," Waters said. "No one can call the national office to file a complaint without written permission of the state director, and he did that."

Caldwell coach Bill Hamby stated that he and Post 29 will likely protest the ruling against Bumgardner.

"He called the National headquarters to get a rules clarification, and they turned that into a major offense," Hamby said.

However, Hamby isn't sure if they will continue to pursue their protest against Garner.

"We just asked them (the commissioners) to apply the rules, but they applied part of them. We aren't pleased with that," Hamby said. "We are keeping our options open concerning further action. We just have a lot of thinking and deliberating to do. I think the committee at least understood the magnitude of dealing with the legality of the infractions, but we have to digest the rest of the rulings and think about it.

"I think their decision raises the question that what happened from this ruling did not correct an injustice to Caldwell players or Wayne County players in Area I. They punished us for bringing this up."

Following the meeting, Area I Commissioner Barry Moore decided to step down. According to several accounts, Moore's decision was predetermined and not based on this issue.