Was it an act of racism or some sort of baseball ritual?
There could be room to debate what happened during Thursday’s District 4-5A baseball game between Central High and Scotlandville High.
Both schools may be ready to close the books on the incident, which was captured on video by a Scotlandville parent who provided it to WAFB-TV for a news broadcast.
The Central player, who was shown with his head wrapped in a white T-shirt while pointing a bat positioned like a gun in the direction of Scotlandville players, has been disciplined by Central Principal David Prescott, and so have the Central coaches.
Scotlandville High officials said they were instructed not to comment on the incident.
“The matter has been turned over to the (East Baton Rouge Parish School System) central office,” acting Scotlandville Principal Harry Wright said. “We’ve been instructed not to comment. That includes the players and the coaches.”
Several attempts to contact Brad Dotson, the Scotlandville parent who reportedly shot the video, were unsuccessful.
Prescott, the Central principal, and Central Athletic Director Sid Edwards met with Central’s players and coaches Friday morning after the video surfaced. Central Schools Superintendent Michael Faulk also has issued an apology. Prescott said he sent a formal letter of apology to Scotlandville on Friday.
“It was an act by a teenager who I know had no malice in his heart,” Prescott said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that the act was taken out of context by those who saw it.”
He continued, “The (Central) coaches were busy doing their jobs and weren’t aware of everything going on. But in no way does that justify what happened in any way. We cannot and do not condone it.”
Edwards said the player and the Central coaches were each suspended for one game. The coaches’ suspensions will be scattered over several games to allow the coaching staff to share duties until the suspensions are completed.
A source close to the situation said the Central player in question went to Scotlandville in an effort to apologize to the Hornets players in person Friday.
Edwards noted that what was seen as a racist act with a white hood that witnesses thought resembled a Ku Klux Klan garment was in fact an attempt to model a ritual known as “baseball sniping.”
“Apparently, it’s something that’s done on the college and pro levels,” Edwards said. “I’m not a baseball guy, but I’ve found out a lot about it over the last day. Guys hold a bat like it’s a gun.
“Some dress up like snipers with a towel or something covering everything but their eyes. The idea is to put the Mojo on the ball or the other team.”
Edwards’ research on the Internet yielded dozens of photos displaying baseball sniping. Some showed players lying down on the ground like a sniper with a bat aimed toward the field.
Others showed bats with water cups taped on bats so that they look like a rifle scope. One notable photo Edwards forwarded to The Advocate via text shows Pittsburgh Pirates star Andrew McCutchen playfully holding a bat like a gun.
“Would this be viewed differently if it was two teams with the same racial makeup?” Edwards asked. “Probably so. But to me, that doesn’t matter. When you think about what happened in Ferguson (Missouri) and in other places, it’s not appropriate. No matter how you look at this, it’s just not good.”