The back of the uniforms issued to the Spring Hill Dixie Baseball Minors division Orioles. New uniforms have since been ordered after the league found a sponsor for the team.
One coach’s inability to find a sponsor led to what Spring Hill Dixie Baseball now realizes was a questionable decision in the printing of jerseys.
A team in the league’s Minors (ages 8-10) division, named after the Baltimore Orioles, was issued uniform tops with the words “No Sponsor” printed across the back and has played its first four games with them.
This has raised considerable tension for the local Dixie franchise operating out of Anderson Snow Sports Complex, leading to a meeting on Wednesday night to resolve the situation.
The league’s president, Joe Abbadessa, said a sponsor has since been found for the team through a father of one of the players, and new jerseys have been ordered.
“Looking back on it, we probably could have handled it differently,” Abbadessa said. “It was a board decision. We should have gone straight to the parents and I think we’d have resolved it. It was a lesson learned by everyone involved.”
According to Abbadessa, out of the league’s 43 teams, the Minors Orioles were the only ones to not lock up a sponsor.
By league bylaws, the responsibility of finding a sponsor belonged to the team’s manager, Robert Guarino.
Guarino told Hernando Today that he reached out to several businesses but none were able to produce the sponsorship money by the league’s deadline.
However, Abbadessa said the league checked up on Guarino’s contacts and found that he had not done the leg work he claimed.
Also, Abbadessa said the team parent who eventually stepped up with the sponsorship was never informed by Guarino that a sponsor was needed.
Abbadessa accused Guarino of constantly changing his story, and pointed out that the league attempted to help the coach. Guarino indicated he received no such assistance.
Guarino, who Abbadessa added could similarly not find a sponsor for his team last season, said he was forced to resign his coaching position, though his son remains with the Orioles.
In an email written to Dixie state director Tony Smith, Guarino stated that he would have stepped down to allow another coach to find a sponsor if he knew what would be printed on the jerseys.
“My team’s spirit comes way before my need to serve as a coach,” Guarino said in the email. “The shirts reflect a punishment to myself for not obtaining a sponsor. The children on my team are internalizing the words ‘No Sponsor’ and are starting the season off defeated.”
Abbadessa said the league felt it needed to back up a hard stance it took after having issues with coaches failing to find sponsorships the previous year.
With the new season fast approaching and one team holding up jersey orders for the entire league, a call was made that Abbadessa admits was not the best course of action.
“We have writing in our rules on how to handle coaches without sponsors,” Abbadessa said. “We’ve amended those rules.”
From now on, Abbadessa said, the league will step in and communicate directly with parents if a coach is having difficultly securing a sponsor.