A 13-year-old umpire at a children's baseball game where adults broke into a brawl said the violence began after he issued a warning following a man's use of profane language.
Teen umpire Josh Cordova told NBC affiliate KUSA in Denver that both coaches and fans of the two teams of 7-year-olds had been "chirping" — baseball lingo for badgering each other — throughout their game on Saturday in the suburb of Lakewood.
Cordova said that "when an old man dropped the f-bomb on the sidelines" he issued a formal warning to both fans and the teams from the Bear Creek Junior Sports Association to knock it off.
"It was kind of weird," the young umpire said. "I shouldn't have to tell a grown man how to act around little kids."
Rather than heed the umpire's call for calm, the adults on both sides of the diamond started to argue over whether the offending fan should be removed from the grounds at Westgate Elementary School. The barking turned to fisticuffs with adults running on to the field and throwing punches.
"I issued it (the warning) to the entire field, and then everybody started yelling and screaming and it just got really chaotic, like, 'He should should be ejected, he should be out of there.' Coaches were pointing," Cordova recalled.
Looking back, Cordova said he wouldn't have handled the situation any differently.
"I thought maybe by issuing a warning everyone would just chill and take a step back and realize how stupid they were acting, but I guess not,” said Cordova, himself a competitive travel ballplayer who uses his umpire pay to help pay for his baseball equipment.
The Bear Creek Junior Sports Association apologized for the incident and said all parents and coaches involved in Saturday's melee will no longer be welcome.
"BCJSA has ZERO tolerance for this type of behavior....PERIOD," according to a league statement. "We are embarassed (sic), ashamed and angry that this has taken place. "
Two of the people involved in the melee are employees of the Denver Public Works Department and have been suspended with pay as the police investigation continues, a city spokeswoman told NBC News on Friday. One of those employees is among the five people cited by police for disorderly conduct, the spokeswoman said.