A 1998 Milton Bradley Conflict With an Umpire

When I heard the news of the Carlos Silva-Milton Bradley trade, I wanted to look around to learn some more about who the Mariners were getting. I found this Washington Post item from October 30, 1998, about a suspension early in Bradley’s career:

Delmarva Rockfish center fielder Milton Bradley yesterday was suspended from the Maryland Fall League for the remainder of the season and fined an undisclosed amount after he struck a home plate umpire in a game Wednesday night.

Bradley, who will miss the last four games of the season, struck umpire Matt Schaefer on the right side of his head three times after Schaefer ejected Bradley in the bottom of the first inning of a game against the Frederick Regiment in Salisbury, Md.

“You just can’t have a ballplayer physically abusing an umpire,” said Commissioner J. Keith Lupton, who suspended Bradley and levied the fine. Bradley also is ineligible for any league awards. Bradley, 20, who left yesterday for his home in Long Beach, Calif., could not be reached for comment.

“He [Bradley] pretty much expected” the commissioner’s decision, said Jim Terrill, general manager of the Delmarva Shorebirds and the Rockfish team.

Lupton and Terrill, both of whom were at the game, interviewed the coaches and umpires after the incident to determine exactly what happened.

According to Terrill, Bradley was at the plate with a 3-0 count and started jogging to first base after what he thought was ball four. But Schaefer called the pitch a strike and Bradley returned to the plate and exchanged words with Schaefer.

Schaefer threw Bradley out of the game and Bradley continued to argue with the umpire. “He [Bradley] poked him three times on the side of the mask . . . and made contact with his head,” Terrill said.

Lupton said his decision to suspend Bradley “was an easy decision,” because league rules forbid players from striking an umpire. “Baseball is a game of emotions,” Lupton said. “It’s an unfortunate situation.”

Terrill said Bradley, who joined the Rockfish (19-17) when the league started on Sept. 20, leads the league in hits, extra-base hits and slugging percentage, and is in the top three in other offensive categories. “He’s definitely the star of this team,” he said.

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