In a very belated but troubling story out of Fort Worth (TX) — On Sunday, May 26, 2013, the indy pro United League’s Fort Worth Cats faced the Edinburg Roadrunners at LaGrave Field for the fourth game of the young 2013 season. In the home dugout was embattled former MLB powerhitter Jose Canseco, who signed a short-term contract to play for the Cats. In the opposing dugout was Ozzie Conseco, Jose’s brother, field manager for the visiting Roadrunners.
At some point during the game, the home plate umpire called Canseco out on a third strike. What transpired next involving Fort Worth Cats front office executive Rod MonDragon, the home plate umpire, and the league’s head of umpires A.J. Wendel is laid out in an article by Fort Worth Weekly staff writer Jeff Prince. Read more here.
Thanks to a concerned baseball fan and regular visitor to this site, we have the texts between MonDragon and Wendel (which we have marked up with red arrows and yellow highlights) and Wendel’s resignation e-mail sent to more than 50 individuals. After reading the article and comparing the texts and e-mail, there appears to be more here than a lone staffer gone wild. In the Fort Worth Weekly story, Wendel had this to say:
“Mr. Pierce never asked us to do anything unethical,” Wendel said. “It was just one bad apple who didn’t have any authority to say what he did. The rest of the league changed my opinion on them, and they’ve been nothing but professional since then.”
Yet, in Wendel’s e-mail to umpires and others two days after the incident, he stated this:
“Next, Rod Mondragon (who hired me and who’s official title is Director of Stadium Operations) physically walked on the field, and told the umpire not to call Canseco out on strikes. Also, Byron Pierce (the owner of the league) approached the base umpire, and told him to tell the plate umpire the same thing. As you can imagine, the umpires were stunned as am I.”
In the Fort Worth Weekly story, there is also no mention of this quote below by MonDragon in his text to Wendel:
“Ozzie In fact tells us what pitch his pitcher will throw!!”
The “severely reprimanded” MonDragon was clearly a guilty party here, but we have to wonder if he was a scapegoat too.