Ejections are a common part of the professional baseball experience. It doesn’t matter what level or league we’re talking about, ejections happen. Most of the time players are the ones getting ejected, then coaches, and on rare occasions, you see weird ejections like a fan or an announcer, etc. On Friday, August 20th a professional baseball game took place where the first base umpire ended up being the one ejected. You read that right, but how did we get to that point and what the heck does it all mean?
First things first, if you’re not already you need to give Ryan Schwalm at ALPB Roundup a follow. Not only is he a great follow for Atlantic League news and notes, but he was the first person to break the umpire ejection and provide anything resembling actual details. We’re now days removed from the ejection and Ryan’s original tweets on the subject remain the only real clarification on what took place,
The basic gist is that during a game between the Lancaster Barnstormers and West Virginia Power at Appalachian Power Park the bottom of the first inning saw a flurry of ejections that ended in the first base umpire walking off the field following a phone call with what we can only assume was the ALPB main office. The activities in question start at the 27:50 mark of the video in the link below and it’s at the 39:00 mark when the first base umpire, Drew Ashcraft, hands the phone back to Power President Chuck Domino and walks off the field having been ejected by the ALPB main office.
Rumors immediately began to swirl but one item has remained constant throughout all those rumors, previous racist remarks from Ashcraft. Multiple sources have confirmed that there was an incident earlier in the season involving the Power and Ashcraft where he made racist remarks towards a Power player or players. There are also additional reports that this same umpire had similar incidents with other ALPB teams.
Be that as it may, during the first inning, Power pitcher, David Kubiak, started shouting at Ashcraft from the dugout, letting Ashcraft know what he thought of the racist comments. The resulted in Ashcraft ejecting Kubiak and then ejecting a few of the Power coaches as well. The game stopped, the Barnstormers left the field in an apparent show of solidarity with the Power, and then the phone call took place leading to the last bit of drama, Ashcraft’s walk of shame. The reason that Kubiak was so vocal is that apparently, the Power did not want Ashcraft attached to their game against the Barnstormers in the first place. Credible sources have laid out a timeline where the Power informed the ALPB main office of this and when no action was taken they decided to play the game under protest.
It’s important to note that the ALPB doesn’t assign umpires to games. The system that is in place is that the league uses a pool of umpires from a professional umpire service who are allowed to bid on the games they want to work. Perhaps this created a situation where ALPB officials felt they were locked into Ashcraft being on the crew for the Power/Barnstormers game. Maybe that’s the case, maybe it isn’t, the only thing we know is that Ashcraft still took the field, chaos erupted, and he was then ejected.
The official ALPB box score for the game has scrubbed Ashcraft from existence and that has set a trend of silence from the league. It’s interesting that this is the case as the ALPB has an official policy detailing discriminatory or racist language used by anyone associated with the league. The policy listed below, and found in section 6.B of the league’s official rules, is fairly cut and dry,
b) Any club employee or sub-contractor, including but not limited to players, managers, coaches, umpires, or front office personnel making a negative reference to a player, umpire or any another person’s race, color, creed (religion or spirituality), ethnic origin, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or gender identification before, during, or after a Championship Game shall be fined and subject to immediate suspension as determined by the President.
It would greatly behoove the ALPB to get out in front of this situation and let fans, media, players, and coaches know what fallout Ashcraft faces from his actions. To say they do not condone his actions and that he will never ump another game in the league. Those are simple words to say, words that the Power and the rest of the league deserve to hear from the ALPB offices and its President, Rick White. As of today, this has not happened, and that leaves me with the question of why not? Does the ALPB simply want this to go away and be forgotten? That may happen with some people, but others will remember and it will cast a dark pall over the league and how it operates.
There’s no reason that the ALPB is remaining silent on this matter. They have a policy in place and actions that clearly meet the criteria of that policy. It already looks bad enough for the White and his league that they ignored the Power’s accusations prior to the game. Not to mention the racist instances Ashcraft took part in with other teams that have also been reported. Now is not the time for ALPB to remain silent, it is time for the league to take action and remove Ashcraft and his racism from ever having the possibility to umpire another ALPB game. Hopefully in the next week, the ALPB and White do exactly that and if they don’t, well, that tells us plenty about the league and White.
Lead photo courtesy of Unknown – Atlantic League of Professional Baseball