Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Jason Chowning is a ringer

Here's an incredible story from the Saskatoon Star Phoenix involving ineligible players and what seems like a peach of a coach.

Here's your run-down:

In 2009, there was a team in the Western Major Baseball League playoffs - the Melville Millionaires.

The Millionaires "conspired" to sneak an ineligible player onto the roster and into the game.

The coach, Garnet Keller, who conspired to sneak said ineligible player on to the team - who won the title - was stripped of his title, received a lifetime suspension as a team governor, a three year coaching suspension, and a $200 fine. Keller sued, some Canadian judge found in his favor, but still took him to the woodshed:

Rather than admit his misconduct when confronted, Keller systematically lied, falsified documents and coerced his assistant coach and his players in furtherance of a fraud, said the ruling.

Apparently, though, bringing in "ringers" (the article's term) isn't anything new:

Canadian baseball teams have been passing off ringers from the U.S. as local boys for as long as the game has been played in this country. They don't even have to be sneaked in anymore. The Western League, for instance, allows a team to bring in American imports. They can even bring in an American for the playoffs, provided he has played in at least three regular-season games.

Here's why this matters: The ringer is 28th Round pick Jason Chowning. Chowning wasn't available for the final three regular season games for Melville, because he was pitching at OU. So Keller dressed players who looked kinda sorta like Chowning:

Since he didn't pitch in any of those games, the imposter only had to sit in the bullpen and look American. The real Chowning, when he belatedly arrived, was slipped into the lineup, illegally, for the playoffs.

And it was Chowning himself who blew up the story:

On his flight to Regina, he sat beside a woman whose son played for the Regina franchise that was about to meet Melville in the playoffs. Based on what he let slip, she quickly figured out he was ineligible. An official complaint ensued...

...Even then, Keller would not admit that the jig was up. Instead, he falsely claimed in a signed declaration that Chowning had indeed been in Melville for the requisite three games, but that he made a quick trip home and back for personal reasons before the playoffs. Chowning and a Millionaires assistant coach at Keller's urging signed similar declarations. What none of them could explain is why Chowning, when he was flying into Regina, could not remember the name or location of the team he was supposed to be playing for. Obviously, he had never been in Melville in his life.

Neither could anyone produce Chowning's passport with the exculpatory entry stamps or his airline boarding passes. Keller was, however, able to produce bogus airline ticket stubs to support his concocted version of events. Further questions he deflected with verbal abuse. But Chowning soon thereafter would confess all to his university compliance officer. Only then did Keller admit to the scheme.

This is a bizarre story. Who knew Canadian baseball was so cut-throat?