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High School Coach Axed for Pitching

May 7, 1998

EATONVILLE, Wash. (AP) _ Cory Harmon technically was too young to be a high school baseball coach and definitely too old to be a player.

His short career as both ended when Harmon, 19, coach of the Eatonville High Cruisers, put himself in as starting pitcher. It was a less than successful outing: He gave up 15 runs in four innings.

No one complained during the April 30 doubleheader against North Mason High. But Eatonville’s athletic director, Donna Hosley, said she got a call that night from someone after the game.

``I thought, `This can’t be happening,′ ″ Hosley told The Seattle Times. ``I was really shocked.″

The next day she notified Gary Luft, president of the Nisqually League, of which Eatonville is a member, and fired Harmon and assistant coach Jason Numsen, who apparently directed the team while Harmon was pitching. Both held part-time seasonal positions without any classroom duties at the school in this town of 1,700 in the Cascade foothills west of Mount Rainier National Park.

Harmon, who graduated from Eatonville two years ago, was hired to replace former coach Jack Headlee, a teacher who retired. Hosley said the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, which oversees prep athletics in the state, granted Harmon a waiver from a rule that head coaches must be at least 21.

``The guy is 19, but he looks like he’s about 16,″ said Rusty Trudeau, baseball coach at Foster High, another school in the league.

The episode occurred in the doubleheader’s second game, which North Mason won 15-4. Eatonville likely will be credited with a victory in the first game _ which it lost 14-1 _ because the North Mason Bulldogs used a foreign exchange student as a pitcher, a violation of WIAA rules.

Luft, athletic director at Foster High School in Tukwila, said he had never heard of anything like the Harmon incident in 25 years of high school athletics.

The rest of the Cruisers’ season, two varsity games and one junior varsity game, has been canceled. Before the forfeits, the team was 2-7.

Luft said Eatonville could face further sanctions when league athletic directors meet May 20.

Harmon and Numsen could not be reached by telephone for comment Wednesday.

Harmon’s actions have baffled many at the school, including players. Hosley said the team was not short of players for the game.

Harmon’s name apparently was given to the North Mason scorekeeper as ``Farmer.″

North Mason coach Jay Hultberg said he didn’t realize Harmon had played until Hosley reported the incident Friday.

For his part, Hultberg said he had his reasons for playing an ineligible foreign exchange student, Mokoto Naguchi.

``My rationale was that this was a non-league game, so I wanted to let the kid play,″ Hultberg told The Sun of Bremerton. ``I had been planning this for months. He’s a great kid and would never get the chance again. I did it for the experience of the kid.″

Although that first-game victory likely will be forfeited, Naguchi pitched a three-hitter.

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