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Charges to be filed against Jefferson assistant

Published Oct. 1, 2005

As county and state athletic officials investigated an altercation between an umpire and an assistant baseball coach from Jefferson, the umpire said Thursday he was filing assault charges against the coach.

Steve Gonzalez, in his first year as a high school umpire but preparing for his second in the Florida State League, also questioned the security provided at the game Tuesday at Jefferson High.

"I work professional baseball games and I can deal with the bumping, the yelling and the cussing," said Gonzalez, a graduate of the Joe Brinkman umpire school and in his eighth year as an umpire. "But I am filing charges because of the severity of the situation. That takes it to a whole new level."

At the game, in which Tampa Bay Tech beat Jefferson, an argument ensued after a balk call against the Jefferson pitcher. Gonzalez made the call but said he might not have been emphatic enough.

The first-base umpire, Hank Himminen, called the Tampa Bay Tech runner out and the argument began after Gonzalez overruled the call because of the balk.

Gonzalez and Jefferson assistant Tony Castillo each have accused the other of bumping during the argument. Castillo went a step further, however, by grabbing Gonzalez by the throat and throwing a punch.

Gonzalez said he planned to file a police report accusing Castillo of assaulting him. Castillo declined to comment on whether he would file a report. The state attorney's office could not be reached Thursday to confirm Gonzalez's report had been filed.

Gonzalez also said he plans to file a complaint against Jefferson High for not providing adequate security and against Deputy Howard Northrup, who was unavailable for comment, for failure to provide an escort following the game.

Sanctions against the school and the parties involved will be decided on by both the Hillsborough County Athletic Department and the Florida High School Activities Association.

Hillsborough athletic director Wayne Williamson still is investigating the situation and was waiting for statements from others before making a decision.

"We want to get everything right," Williamson said. "We would like to resolve the situation and not drag our feet, but we will not make a decision in haste."

Williamson said he hopes to reach a decision by today, but it could be delayed until after the weekend.

FHSAA Deputy Commissioner Ron Allen was in Tampa on Thursday to talk to officials at both schools but could not be reached for comment.

Gonzalez said the players on both sides, particularly the Tech bench, showed restraint, and he planned to file a sportsmanship report with the FHSAA to commend them. He also said he did not wish to see sanctions imposed against Jefferson.

"I don't want the team to suffer for something the coaching staff does," Gonzalez said. "I don't feel that punishing the team will solve a whole lot."

Castillo, meanwhile, will not be allowed to coach at Jefferson for the remainder of the year, and maybe never again, Jefferson principal Dan Riveiro said.

"Right now that is what is in the best interest of Jefferson High School," Riveiro said.

The lack of security charges come following the heckling by Jefferson fans that caused Gonzalez to stop the game and ask for the stands to be cleared of more than 100 fans.

Riveiro then placed two administrators in the stands to help with crowd control, made an announcement to the fans, asked Jefferson coach Pop Cuesta to make an appeal to the fans to remain in control and requested that Northrup stay on the field.

Riveiro also said he went to offer the umpires an escort to their cars, but did not see the pair after they headed toward their cars through the Tech dugout.