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How's this for sportsmanship?

There’s nothing like playing in a T-ball game, if you’re a kid. Learning about team spirit, sportsmanship and camaraderie…it’s a good thing, as Martha would say. Unless you’re a kid with a disability — because you have to worry about getting whacked by a teammate on the orders of your coach. Nice life lesson, isn’t it?

A T-ball coach allegedly paid one of his players $25 to hurt an 8-year-old mentally disabled teammate so he wouldn’t have to put the boy in the game, police said Friday. Mark R. Downs Jr., 27, of Dunbar, is accused of offering one of his players the money to hit the boy in the head with a baseball, police said. Witnesses told police Downs didn’t want the boy to play in the game because of his disability.

Police said the boy was hit in the head and in the groin with a baseball just before a game, and didn’t play, police said.

“The coach was very competitive,” state police Trooper Thomas B. Broadwater said. “He wanted to win.”

Downs has an unpublished telephone number and couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Friday. It was unclear whether he had an attorney. He was arrested and arraigned Friday on charges including criminal solicitation to commit aggravated assault and corruption of minors. He was released from jail on an unsecured bond.

The alleged assault happened June 27 in North Union Township, about 40 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, authorities said.

Thanks to House Blender and Julien’s List contributor Holly for the pointer.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding