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In Piscataway, N.J., an umpire got so fed up with a Little League coach that he allegedly punched him in the face. The ump says the coach came after him first. Pat Battle reports.
Authorities have accused an umpire in New Jersey of punching a Little League coach in the face and leaving him bloody.
Piscataway Police charged 21-year-old Dave Delnegro III of Middlesex with simple assault at a youth sporting event.
Coach Joe Bellamy claims the umpire attacked him after the coach questioned Delnegro for calling a strike on a pitch that bounced in front of the catcher during the second inning of the game.
"I confronted the umpire about pushing the game along too quickly and what the rush was," he told NBC 4 New York. "Things escalated -- he wasn't happy with that -- and we had some words, and he became very irate and he began to punch me in the face. This was on the field, in front of the children."
A grandfather of one the Little League players was sitting behind the fence a few feet from home plate and described the umpire getting "angry."
He "started punching him right in the face, three times," said Rainer Layug. "I was astonished. I didn't realize the umpire would do that. Then the blood started coming out."
Witnesses said the coach never struck back.
"It was traumatic enough that he did what he did to me, but I didn't want to make it any worse by hitting him back," said Bellamy, who received stitches to the mouth. "I spoke to the kids and explained to them that just because someone hits you doesn't mean you have to hit them back."
Little League player Matthew, 9, described feeling scared as he watched his coach being assaulted.
"Our coach wasn't doing anything, just asking why he was rushing," said Matthew. "And then [the umpire] just started punching him."
Delnegro is a Rutgers pre-med student and has no criminal record, according to his lawyer Jordan B. Rickards. He umpires to make extra money while he's in school.
Rickards said his client felt threatened by the coach, "who became verbally abusive to the point of belligerence over a call that Mr. Delnegro has made," he said in a statement.
"In an attempt to maintain order, Mr. Delnegro ejected the irate man from the game, but rather than exit the field, Mr. Delnegro indicated that Mr. Bellamy advanced upon him in a loud, aggressive and threatening manner, and actually made physical contact with Mr. Delnegro, such that Mr. Delnegro feared for his safety," said Rickards.
Bellamy said he did not touch the umpire.
"If I was to hit him back regardless, I would have broken the code of conduct," said Bellamy. "I have quite a few kids to coach yet, and that's what I intend on doing."
Bellamy, who coaches his young two sons on the Little League team, said he plans to return to the field for a game Thursday.
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