A Florida man has been arrested for sucker-punching an umpire, also a disabled veteran, at his son’s baseball game.
The umpire, identified as Reinaldo Mora, was standing by the backstop just after a game when a man identified by police as Jorge Aponte Gonzalez walked up from behind and punched him in the head, according to video released by the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office in central Florida.
The video shows Mora immediately fall to the ground and concerned players and parents run up to help, with two men restraining Gonzalez after the April 18 attack at a local high school.
It’s unclear whether Gonzalez has an attorney, and his phone number could not be located.
“This umpire … does this because he has a passion for baseball and he likes to give back to his community and he loves to dedicate his time to baseball and to kids,” Sheriff Marcos Lopez said at a news conference last week.
“He’s a good man.”
Preceding the attack
Mora told WKMG-TV that the attack took him by complete surprise.
“All of a sudden I felt something here in my temple. Knocked me down,” Mora said, adding that he believes it happened because he had given an unsportsmanlike conduct warning to Gonzalez’s son earlier in the game.
He said the son was upset about the warning and was repeatedly cursing.
Mora said he didn’t realize someone had punched him until others told him so. He didn’t full appreciate it until he watched the surveillance footage that shows him being laid out.
“Every game I go with the mentality of have fun. The day you stop to have fun sell your equipment and go fishing,” he said. “We have a job to do. We want to be as invisible as possible. And I guess I wasn’t invisible for this individual.”
What happens now?
Gonzalez was arrested on Wednesday on charges of charges of battery on a sports official and disruption of a school function. Prosecutors ultimately will decide whether to try the case and what charges Gonzalez will face, if any.
Lopez said he spoke to Gonzalez shortly after his arrest and shared video of him being walked through the station in handcuffs, laughing.
“He’s basically laughing because I told him, you’re being arrested, and he said, ‘I’m being arrested for defending my kid?’” Lopez said, adding that he responded by telling Gonzalez: “There is no reason for you to take this to this level.”
Lopez said parents who may get too emotional to watch their kids’ games in person should consider watching them on YouTube later.
“There should be no parent acting like this in public,” he said. “No one’s getting paid here. This isn’t the MLB.”