Talk about unsportsmanlike conduct. A Jefferson County grandfather is facing felony assault charges after he allegedly punched the umpire after his grandchild's softball game.
Investigators say 55-year-old Daryl Keeton began heckling the umpire during the game, then decided to confront the ump in the parking lot at Mt. Olive ballpark after the game, and that's when he punched the 20-year-old umpire in the nose, bloodying the official.
"A bloody nose most of the time will get you a misdemeanor, and that's wrong, but yeah, there's a law on the books that if you assault an official it's a Class C felony, that's a serious crime, and it should be," said Chief Deputy Randy Christian of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Dept.
An off-duty Birmingham police officer restrained Keeton until the sheriff's department got there. Now Keeton could face 10 years in jail if convicted.
"Being confronted, that comes with the territory and it can exemplify itself in any number of ways," says high school umpire and Pizitz Middle School Assistant Principal Tom Callahan.
"Most parks need to take care of the parents ahead of time," Callahan said. "Have some kind of sportsmanship or code of ethics. Talk to these parents, and the onus is on the head coach to let the parents know with some kind of email or meeting "look, we're not going to have any kind of confrontation."
"You let the kids and the coaches work that out, that's part of life," Sgt. Christian said. "But if he's not embarrassed about that, I'm certainly embarrassed for him."
Keeton is free on bond. The umpire, who hasn't been identified, is recovering.
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