WARNER ROBINS -- The manager of the 2011 Warner Robins American Little League team that competed in the Little League World Series has been barred from the 2012 season.
Phillip Johnson, who has worked in various capacities with Warner Robins American Little League for about seven years, was suspended for the tournament season by Little League International for having alcohol in the organization’s complex during the 2011 Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pa. WRALL later barred him from managing or coaching in the local league this season.
A parent of one of the players gave Johnson alcohol, and he took it into the Creighton J. Hale International Grove, which is a gated dormitory area, Johnson said, adding that he was aware at the time that alcohol was not allowed in that area.
After the incident, someone from the Middle Georgia area wrote a letter to Little League International, Johnson said.
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“Little League found out, and obviously I made a bad decision. I admitted it, and I regret it,” he said when reached by phone Tuesday.
Johnson said he did not consume the alcohol but threw it away.
Still, Little League International has an alcohol-free complex rule during the tournament, said Steve Barr, director of media relations for Little League International.
The suspension was handed down by a tournament committee in February, Barr said. During the suspension period, Johnson is banned from any association with a team of any level that is involved in any of the Little League tournaments, he said.
Once Warner Robins officials were notified of the suspension from Little League International, board members held a meeting and decided to bar Johnson from managing or coaching in the local league this season, said WRALL president Mickey Lay.
He said this was the first time he could recall a Warner Robins league member being suspended from the international organization.
WRALL officials did not notify parents of the occurrence because it did not happen on the local league’s grounds and occurred nearly eight months prior, Lay said, adding that many of the parents involved the 2011 team are not involved with the league now that their children are older and have moved on.
Johnson did not break the law but just violated a rule, Lay said.
“There’s no telling how many kids he’s mentored and coached in a positive way,” he said of Johnson’s career with the league.
Johnson said he told WRALL officials before the punishment was handed down that he would not be managing this year because his son broke his throwing arm. Johnson said he may consider returning to the Little League dugouts in the future.
To contact writer Caryn Grant, call 256-9751.