There is trouble in paradise.
Citing disciplinary conflicts, Paradise Post 79 baseball chairman Ed White accepted the resignation of second-year coach Ken Stowell on June 9. Stowell was replaced by assistant coach Ken Courter.
Although Courter is the fourth coach in four years at Post 79, White said he is not bidding to become the "George Steinbrenner" of American Legion baseball.
"The decision was based on discipline," said White, who has been the post baseball chairman since the inaugural season four years ago.
"We put out rules and some people didn't want to follow them. When that happens, you must take appropriate measures. Attitude is your big thing in any sport. You have to have a positive attitude. If you don't have that, everything else is secondary. It came down to that. There was disrespect for the coaches and we made the recommendation that one of the players shouldn't be on the team."
The player in question, however, happened to be the coach's son.
"(White) wanted to remove some players from the team without consulting me," the elder Stowell said. "And one of those players was my son (Ken). (White) said he has a bad attitude and wasn't worthy of playing American Legion baseball."
Stowell said the whole experience left a bad taste in his mouth.
"I'm really sorry about it. It was unbelievable how it happened," Stowell said. "I don't appreciate it. My son made (high school) all-conference and all-region. Then, (White) is going to tell me he's not worthy? I'd be sorry even if my son wasn't involved. I went to bat for everyone involved. I picked the team and we had a darn good team. But we certainly didn't get any support."
Stowell, who also coached the team last season, had a 2-6 record this season.
"The only thing it did was hurt the program _ period," Stowell said. "I was the third manager in four years. I think that says something."
The younger Stowell was the only player to leave the team. But in the wake of the incident, four others came on board _ Mike Roe of River Ridge, Danny Salvaggio of Gulf, Mark Loffredo of River Ridge and James Mulcahy of Hudson. All four are position players.
"I actually had to turn away a couple more because the roster has to be down to 18 by the end of the month," White said. "Our four new players bring stability, attitude and 100 percent desire to play American Legion baseball."
White said a deep concern for the program drove his actions.
"I did it because I care about the program," White said. "American Legion baseball has been around for 67 years. We like to see kids have the opportunity to play ball and showcase their ability at a higher level."
Odessa Post 147: Coach Calvin Baisley and his team picked up their second win of the season with a 13-7 defeat of Lakeland Post 4 on June 9.
The victory, coupled with a 19-7 drubbing of Paradise Post 79 the night before, gave Post 147 a two-game winning streak. But a 9-4 loss to Lakeland Post 4 (the second of two Post 4 teams in Lakeland) on June 10, and a late-inning loss to Plant City Post 26 dropped Odessa to 2-7 on the season. In the Post 26 contest, Plant City scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the ninth to claim a 5-4 decision.
The Plant City game also marked the return of Mark Roberts, a standout starting pitcher from Zephyrhills who had been out of action since breaking his nose in the season opener four weeks ago. Roberts had five strikeouts in 2 innings.
"Mark threw well, but his control was a little off," Baisley explained. "We'll just try to bring him along slowly to get him back into shape."
Another Odessa pitcher, Mike Nash of Land O'Lakes, hasn't pitched since the midway point of the high school season. But Nash, who has been resting a sore shoulder, was scheduled to make his return Thursday might.
The addition of both Roberts and Nash is a plus, but according to Baisley, the team's shortcomings reach farther than the pitching rotation.
"Our first goal as a team was to get healthy," Baisley said. "We'll see how the chips fall then. The main thing is we want to improve and play good baseball. We've played well at times, but our main weakness has been inconsistency. We want to be able to play a full nine innings of good baseball."