Coaches from the San Fernando National Little League held non-regular matches last Sunday after the Board of Directors previously canceled the season due to online threats.
On Nov. 20 at Pioneer Park, players from the minor and major league teams gathered to play out their last games of the season — unofficially. They played against teams from a league in Glendale, with the major league team edging out a win for their final game.
The decision to hold the games came from the coaches after the last two games were canceled by the board of directors when they received online threats due to an incident involving then Little League President James Bullock asking a street vendor to move his cart away from the snack bar. A parent interjected and video of the argument went viral.
Although the board of directors canceled the rest of the season, and Bullock resigned as president, the coaches came together to discuss a way for the players to still play the last two games.
“The kids needed closure for the season,” said Uriel Rodriguez, a board member for the Little League. “It was about the whole community coming together so the kids could play.
Even after the season had been canceled, players were still practicing in the park.
“I wanted to have my team get out of their house and not be sitting around and playing on their phones or computer games or anything like that,” Senior Manager David Magana said. “I told my team we’re going to go out there and practice, and we’ve been practicing since the stoppage.”
The coaches had to locate a different league to play against, finding one from Glendale. Although not an official match, players from the major league team cheered when they narrowly beat their opponents.
“The kids were so excited to play again,” said Angie, a parent who declined to provide her last name. “The kids were hurt [when the season was canceled], but now look at them, they’re acting like they won the World Series.”
Sergio Gutierrez, a parent of a child in the minor league team, agreed that it was good to give the players closure for the season.
“The kids needed it most. My son was crying when they canceled the season,” Gutierrez said. “He was a little happy when there was one more game.”
Gutierrez also came to Bullock’s defense over the incident, saying that the Little League depends on revenue from the snack bar, and that Bullock had done a lot of good work during his term.
“I hope the next president works just as hard as him…the video blew things out of proportion.”
The incident has divided public opinion online, some have come to Bullock’s and the Little League’s defense.
“Why is everyone crucifying him like he killed someone,” Monica Rodriguez wrote on the San Fernando Valley Sun/el Sol Facebook page. “We’ve always had vendors come around during the season, that vendor could have easily moved 100 ft and still continued selling. But instead, the best approach I guess was to show kids how we should always break rules and act out if we are told no. Way to go parents!!”
“People don’t understand what it takes to make a league run,” wrote Lisa Kathary. “Sales from snack bars is what helps with costs, so yes, a vendor being there taking sales can hurt the little league. Until [you] have been on the board, [you] won’t understand.”
Others criticized the Little League and came to the vendor’s defense.
“I paid $300 for my street vendor’s permit and I have to bring my own toilet and sink!” wrote Renee Malone. “The city does not provide designated vending areas around LA and [the San Fernando] Valley, then people feel entitled to attack street vendors for making a living because people refuse to be open minded about supporting entrepreneurs or self-employed people. … Protect street vendors at all cost.”
“Maybe update your snack bar items so a street vendor doesn’t take all the clients,” wrote Brenda Cervantes. “You are obviously not offering snacks people are interested in.”
Some, however, expressed their sympathies for the children, who had their season canceled.
“The children are the one’s suffering here,” Celia Ramirez wrote. “Had people been adults and not turned to creating content for social media, the matter could have been handled. Instead, my nephew and all the rest of the kids in this league have been taught that selfish adults are the reason why they don’t get to play ball. Where are all the advocates for these kids?”
With the season, in every sense, now over, the Little League is now preparing for the spring season. Among those preparations are discussions with the City of San Fernando about any improvements that can be made to the baseball fields, planning early bird signups and choosing a new president after their most recent one resigned. A date to elect the next president is still undetermined.
Magana has heard from a board member that the Little League is considering raising the registration fees for players, so they don’t have to rely on revenue from the snack bar in the hope of preventing future incidents with street vendors, although nothing has yet been confirmed.