A kickball umpire in South Carolina is calling the mayor of his town a bad sport, claiming he was essentially fired after calling the mayor’s son “out” during an adult kickball game.
The controversy surrounding the Aug. 6 kickball game in Moncks Corner, South Carolina, has now become less about a controversial call and more about an allegation of a politician bullying a private citizen.
During what was apparently a tense game, umpire Graylnn Moran Jr. called Moncks Corner Mayor Michael Lockliear’s adult son “out” at home plate.
According to Moran, the mayor “went crazy.”
“I called the mayor’s son out at the plate because he got hit on the back of the leg,” Moran told The Post and Courier in Columbia.
“Man, the mayor went crazy on me. He storms out there to the plate, calls me stupid and was just yelling. It was embarrassing,” Moran said. “He was so aggressive, I thought he wanted to fight me.”
Lockliear admits that his competitiveness may have gotten a little out of hand, but denies that he made that large of a scene.
He also felt he was justified.
“I’m very competitive, and I would have argued that call even if it wasn’t my son,” the mayor said. “Because we were down 4-3 in the bottom inning. And then I thought he was safe, he looked safe, he was past the bag when he got hit by the ball. I said, ‘He was past the bag’ three times and then walked away.”
“In my position, I probably should have let it go,” Lockliear added. “But I wanted to win the game.”
Other witnesses, however, believe Lockliear acted out of line.
“He asked the umpire if his job was a paid position,” Justin Lowe, a player on the other team, told The Post and Courier. “And he said, if so, he should return the money because ‘he ain’t worth it.'”
Moran said despite the dispute, he didn’t throw the mayor out of the game.
So he was surprised when he received a call from Charleston Officials SC, the organization that contracts out umpires to recreational games, telling him that he wouldn’t be used as an umpire at Moncks Corner Regional Recreational Complex anymore.
William Hamm, CEO of Charleston Officials, said the town’s recreation director, Becky Ellison, was the one who asked him to reassign Moran.
Lockliear denies that he played any role in Moran’s reassignment, however.
According to a lawsuit filed by Moran, the umpire earned about $1,200 each season at the Moncks Corner Regional Recreational Complex, where he has worked since 2015.
But the umpire’s lawyer says the lawsuit isn’t about the money.
“The amount is not really the target,” lawyer Tom Fernandez told The State. “It’s the message that our politicians cannot bully private citizens and get away with it.”
In a letter to Gov. Henry McMaster and Attorney General Alan Wilson, Fernandez claimed Lockliear’s behavior was a “crime of moral turpitude.”
“As you both know, our public officers must be watertight when it comes to corrupting influences,” Fernandez wrote. “Similarly, our public servants must not belittle, demean, debase, degrade, or threaten their constituents or any private citizen; especially when they lose their temper over something so trivial as a kickball game.”
The attorney general’s office said it would not be launching an investigation.
The matter could be looked into on a local level, though.
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