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Cooper City youth baseball coaches dismissed from league after fight

Coach Michael Freed says he was the victim, but regrets incident

COOPER CITY, Fla. – Two Cooper City youth baseball coaches have been dismissed for the season after cellphone video surfaced, showing the coaches getting into a brawl.

Cooper City Optimist Club president Dwight Vander Linde told Local 10 News Thursday that a committee determined that both coaches violated the league's Coaches Code of Conduct.

Both coaches are also barred from returning for future seasons, Vander Linde said.

The fight was reported Saturday afternoon during a game between the Cubs and the Rays baseball teams.

The teammates, who are all age 10 or younger, stood by while their coaches got into a scuffle after one coach switched a player for a faster runner, an incident report said.

According to the Broward Sheriff's Office report, one of the coaches said "(Expletive) you" to the other coach before the other man punched him in the face.

Local 10 News reporter Todd Tongen spoke to the coach who was punched, Michael Freed, who said his family's life has been turned upside down after the video made national headlines.

"I want everybody to know that I am the victim," Freed said. "I was attacked at a game and some of the news outlets are portraying me to be a fighter in front of kids."

Freed said the whole thing started when he made a runner substitution and the opposing coach, Alex Diaz, said he was playing B-word ball and that they were cheaters.

"I said 'F you! Your mother is a cheater,'" Freed said.

Diaz told police that his mother had recently passed and the comment "hit a nerve."

"That is very sad and I am very sorry that happened, and I did not know that," Freed said.

Authorities said the men were separated by other coaches and eventually apologized and shook hands. Freed refused to press charges against the other coach.

Freed's wife told Tongen that she was shocked by the incident.

"I was really disappointed that he couldn't bite his tongue. You do it all the time," Melissa Freed said. "It was unfortunate and he made a mistake. He instantly regretted it."

The father of four said he has coached at the park for 14 seasons without a single incident, but he said Diaz has a record at the park. 

"He was coming off a suspension for a verbal altercation with a parent," Freed said.

Local 10 News has reached out to Diaz for comment, but has not heard back.

Freed said he believes that the punishment did not fit the crime, and he thought he would receive a game or two suspension.

"This is one of the most embarrassing things that has ever happened to me in my adult life," he said.

 


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