A junior college baseball coach has been forced to resign after it was revealed his team had earphones in their batting helmets.
Rodney Velardi resigned after 13 seasons as coach of Atlantic Cape Community College in South Jersey after it was suspected that his team was receiving signals through its headphones.
During a game on April 22, an opposing first baseman told his head coach that he thought he heard a voice coming from a helmet.
«I didn’t think so,» Rowan College Gloucester County head coach Rob Valli said via the Courier Post. «I just thought, nah. I didn’t believe it. I didn’t believe it, but because of that fancy trap, I just didn’t think they would. I didn’t think they would.» «
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Valli said he refrained from notifying the referees until he and his team were 100 percent sure of their suspicions.
«For me, he wasn’t going to be there on the first inning. We had to confirm that that was what it was. So the second time around, those same guys came up, and he was confirming with me the whole time. Once those guys were came up, he said, ‘I hear you. I hear you.'»
Valli then asked a referee to check two Atlantic Cape helmets, finding earphones in each of them.
«(He was) as surprised as I was,» Valli said. «The reaction was that I came out and said they had earphones in their headphones, and he seemed surprised…he said to me: ‘How do you know?’ I explained that our first baseman had been hearing this now, and we confirmed it the second time these guys got on base.
«In 30 years, I’ve never asked a referee to check a helmet, but now I’m here and I tell them that you’re going to find earphones in these helmets, and he says, ‘Okay, let’s check.'»
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No one was ejected, but Valli said he wouldn’t continue playing until a camera in center field was no longer operational. Valli’s best guess is that Velardi was using that camera to zoom in on the receiver’s signals because he had an iPad in the dugout, possibly watching a live stream of the game.
«Whether he did it or not, who could prove or say, but he had an iPad in the dock, and you can’t do that,» he said.
Velardi was initially given a four-game suspension, but Atlantic Cape director of marketing Laura Batchelor said: «We had asked him to resign.»
Suspicions were raised in the first game of their series when Rowan College pitcher Ethan Dodd felt he was throwing «good pitches» but wondered if he had tipped any.
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Atlantic Cape is the No. 5 seed in their playoff tournament that begins Saturday.