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Little League Officials Impose Strict Rules to Control Conduct at Games

June 4, 1993

HAYWARD, Calif. (AP) _ Little League officials for a Northern California region have imposed a ban on heckling by fans and players following two post-game fights, including one that ended in the death of a spectator.

The league’s District 45 decided Wednesday that players and fans will be ejected the first time they heckle, which is known as ″trash talking.″

In addition, one team will remain in the dugout after a game until the other team leaves.

″If umpires hear trash talking from the dugout, they’ll tell the manager to get the kid out of there,″ said Mike DeBone, the league’s district administrator.

The rules were imposed in response to two fights last month in the district that covers Hayward, Union City, San Leandro, San Lorenzo and Castro Valley.

On May 15, spectator Joseph Matteucci was struck in the head with a baseball bat after a catcher became enraged at the end of the game when fans began heckling his teammates.

The catcher swung a bat at a player from an opposing team, but the player ducked and Matteucci was hit and later died, police said. The catcher tried to run, but a player from the other team threw a rock that hit him in the head.

On May 28, a spectator punched a player following a game. Coaches had to restrain other players who tried to join the fight, DeBone said.

Anyone violating the new rules will be ejected from the game and players could be suspended for two games or the entire season, DeBone said.

Spectators could be told to leave if officials hear them make abusive comments, he said.

Beginning next season, the league will provide umpires with additional training on handling tense situations, DeBone said.

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