It turns out that sign-stealing may not be exclusive to the major leagues.
A Little League club from Barrington, R.I., defeated Goffstown, N.H., in Saturday's New England Regional Final to reach the Little League World Series, and the losing team's skipper is calling foul.
"You can see (runners on second base) leaning in, looking in and they’re doing hand gestures to their kid (at the plate) indicating what kind of pitch it is and where it’s located," Goffstown manager Pat Dutton said, according to Tim MacLean of the New Hampshire Union Leader. “You can do that in big league ball, but in Little League it’s unsportsmanlike, it’s dishonorable, and it’s disgusting. They did it the whole tournament and got away with it, and now that’s what’s representing New England in the Little League World Series. It’s just a bad look."
Barrington Little League denied the accusation on Tuesday in a statement to Boston.com.
"The article in the Union Leader is unfortunate, and its premise false ... We hold our coaches, players, and teams to the highest standards, and do not coach or condone unsportsmanlike behavior of any kind."
In the majors, sign-stealing isn't explicitly banned despite being a controversial tactic. In Little League, it's clearly forbidden in the rule book.
Dutton didn't play the game under protest, but did express his disappointment afterward and maintained his stance that Barrington cheated in the victory.
"It’s just frustrating to see teams and kids having to go about it that way when clearly they were playing better than we were," he said. "They didn’t have to do that. That’s something these kids don’t learn on their own. That’s something that they’re taught. They’re coached to do that."
The Barrington squad opens the Little League World Series against South Riding, Va. on Thursday.