LAS CRUCES, N.M. – Baseball coaches from a New Mexico high school say they will file a formal complaint against an umpire who allegedly told a Latino player to stop speaking Spanish during a game.
Emmanuel Burciaga, an assistant coach at Gadsden High School, told the Albuquerque Journal that umpire Corey Jones told the Gadsden first baseman to speak only English or face ejection during a game in Alamogordo on Tuesday.
After Burciaga asked Jones, the first-base umpire, about the admonishment, Jones said, "Anyone who speaks Spanish -- coaches or players -- will be ejected," according to Gadsden High School baseball coaches.
Burciaga said he told Jones, "Our players will not stop speaking Spanish, and they will not be ejected." Burciaga said Jones then "came walking toward me and said, `Another word from you, Coach, and you will be ejected."'
The home plate umpire, who is bilingual, intervened in the mid-game conflict and told Jones there was no rule prohibiting players from speaking Spanish on the field, Burciaga said. The other umpire assured Jones that he understood Spanish and would put a stop to any foul language, Burciaga said.
The school said it plans to file a complaint with the New Mexico Activities Association, the governing body of the state's high school sports.
"I'm not trying to get him (Jones) fired," Burciaga said. "My goal is to educate the person."
Burciaga also said that after the second umpire backed up the Gadsden High coaches' position that no rule prohibited their players from speaking Spanish on the diamond, Jones appeared furious.
Jones declined to comment to the Albuquerque Journal. No phone number was listed for him.
Dusty Young, associate director of the NMAA, said the organization will investigate the dispute if a complaint is received. The NMAA executive director would have the final say on disciplinary action if any is deemed warranted, Young said.
The Gadsden Independent School District bumps up against the Mexican border and has a student body that is 97 percent Latino.
Gadsden eventually lost to Alamogordo, 10-0.