In the News

‘Home run’ for AAABA manager

Temporarily reinstated amid appeal

By Sandra K. Reabuck for the Tribune Democrat
May 2, 2007

EBENSBURG — Butch Odenthal, who was suspended for one year as manager of a Johnstown baseball team amid accusations of unsportsmanlike conduct, will be with his team after all.

At least, he’ll be with them during spring practice and probably for some games.

On Wednesday, Judge F. Joseph Leahey ordered Odenthal’s temporary reinstatement as manager of the Principle Development team, which under Odenthal won the local title and represented the city in last year’s AAABA Tournament.

Principle Development’s opening game is set May 29 against the Johnstown Grays in the city’s Roxbury Park.

The reinstatement will remain in effect until further order of the court, Leahey said.

Until then, he ordered, the city must hold “a full and complete hearing” within 30 days on Odenthal’s suspension. That hearing will be before city Manager Curt Davis.

Leahey, at a hearing Tuesday, noted that the Greater Johnstown Baseball Association had not followed league rules – both in suspending Odenthal and in not having a formal hearing recorded by a court stenographer.

After Davis holds the city hearing, the stenographer must present a transcript to the court within seven days.

It was unclear how much time Davis would have to make his decision. But at that point, Leahey said, he will schedule arguments by attorneys on the appeal to county court, if Odenthal is still pursuing it.

Among the alleged misconduct that led to Odenthal’s suspension were using foul language, leaving the dugout during games and allowing an ineligible player in 10 games.

Odenthal and his attorney, Tim Burns of Ebensburg, said they were pleased with Wednesday’s ruling.

“I’m happy,” Odenthal said. “This is a positive for us. It was a dark cloud hanging over us. We’ll now be able to contact players and get Principle Development moving forward on a positive foot.”

He said he will schedule team meetings, and possibly a team practice, for this weekend. And, he added, “I’ll be able to sign some other players.” He had testified Tuesday that about 13 players were under contract.

“This is great – we’ve hit a home run,” Burns agreed.

“We’ll have the opportunity to present our case and be heard, which is what we wanted all along.”

The city will have to call witnesses with firsthand knowledge of purported rule violations by Odenthal, and the manager will have the opportunity to call witnesses, Burns said.

Neither city Solicitor Joseph R. Green nor Robert Hartnett, league director, could be reached for comment Wednesday.