Don Sneddon suffered his first ejection of his professional managerial career on Wednesday in San Jose, given the thumb in the third inning of the Modesto Nuts’ loss at San Jose.
That was pretty early in a game for an ejection, but certainly not the earliest exit Sneddon has been forced to take. About eight years ago, while the head coach at Santa Ana College, Sneddon was ejected before the game, without even as much as saying hello to the umpire that gave him the thumb.
The reason? The home plate umpire objected to a tradition the Santa Ana players carried out during the playing of the National Anthem.
The team would line up in orderly fashion in front of their dugout, with caps placed over their hearts. At the moments in the Anthem when cymbals crash, the team in unison would bend back their wrists to briefly open the caps to the skies, then return them in place over their hearts.
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After nearly two decades of doing this before every game, one umpire decided he didn’t like it.
Sneddon tells the story:
“The whole thing was coordinated and pretty neat, and the players worked on keeping it sharp. We had veterans do it with us and everybody was on board.
“One day we had an umpire and I didn’t know his name but he went by Sarge. After the Anthem, he came up to me and said it was the most offensive thing he’d ever seen done to the United States. He was going to write a letter to the college president about it, and I told him he was welcome to do that. We never had any issues with it over 20 years, and all of the sudden this one guy has a problem with it. I told him that if the president tells me to stop doing it, then I will.
“Two weeks later, my assistant coach comes back from exchanging lineups at home plate and informs me that I’d be ejected from the game by Sarge - before the game even started. I went out and asked him to reconsider, because he didn’t have the authority to do that before the game started, and that I was protesting the game. The second thing I told him was that if he didn’t rescind the ejection, he’d never work another game at Santa Ana College. He didn’t, and I was the first coach ever thrown out for the National Anthem.
“I went back to the office and called the league umpiring supervisor and told him that I hoped we won the game because I’d protested it and didn’t want to have to play it over again. We won the game and the guy was thrown out of the association.
“About a year later I’m watching a high school game and one team was up 10-5. A guy hits a ground ball and gets thrown out at first base by 20 feet. All of the sudden I hear “Boom! You’ve just been called out by The Sarge.” Everybody knew the guy was out but he had to put his stamp on it.
“I yelled at him “You’re still doing that?” and he threw me out. I just walked away.”
STORY IN LINEUP; GAGNON SET FOR REHAB
Nuts shortstop Trevor Story has missed multiple games over the last 10 days with slight stiffness in his lower back. He’s been available to play during this stretch, but has been kept out of action purely as a precautionary measure ... Tyler Gagnon, who hasn’t pitched since April 10 after suffering a twinge in his throwing shoulder, is expected to be sent to extended spring training to build his pitching stamina in advance of a return to the Nuts’ roster.