LATINO VOICES

Corey Jones, New Mexico Umpire Who Allegedly Told Players Not To Speak Spanish, Resigns

04/17/2013 06:12 pm ET
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He’s outta here!

An umpire who allegedly told New Mexico high school baseball players they’d be ejected if they spoke Spanish on the field resigned last week, the Albuquerque Journal reported Wednesday.

Corey Jones sparked an uproar in the town of Almagordo last week when he told Gadsden High School’s first baseman to stop speaking Spanish, according to a written complaint cited by Las Cruces Sun-News. The complaint said the player had been encouraging a teammate in Spanish but that Jones said he couldn’t tell whether the boy’s words were insults and asked everyone to speak English in the interest of monitoring their sportsmanship.

Jones’ alleged Spanish ban angered Emmanuel Burciaga, assistant coach for the Gadsden Panthers. But when he protested, Burciaga says, Jones responded with the same anti-Spanish posture.

“Anyone who speaks Spanish – coaches or players – will be ejected,” Jones allegedly said.

The alleged ban on Spanish didn’t go over well, which isn’t surprising given that some 97 percent of Gadsden Independent School district is Hispanic, according to attribute. The homeplate umpire, himself bilingual, also protested and district officials later filed a complaint with the New Mexico Activities Association, the Associated Press reports.

Despite the alleged threat, the ump didn’t eject anyone from the game.

Jones denied banning players and coaches from speaking Spanish, calling the accusation “nothing but lies,” according to the Albuquerque Journal.

The alleged threat to eject players for speaking Spanish struck a nerve with many in New Mexico, where Latinos account for 46 percent of the state's population, making it the most Hispanic state in the union.

“I had a problem with it,” Oñate Principal David Day told Las Cruces Sun-News. “We’re in the 21st century, we’re on the border, this is the kid’s heritage. You don’t know the language and you just assume? It was wrong.”

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