As another season of Little League draws to a close this summer, the adult volunteers charged with running the local organization will walk away from the diamond with a little dirt on their uniforms after finding themselves divided over accusations of financial impropriety.
The hard feelings prompted the newly elected president of the group to resign his post recently, and remaining board members have circled the wagons in an effort to spare the league’s reputation.
“I would have loved to stay as president but with all the headaches; literally, I lost sleep,” former Little League president Anthony Lazzara said. “This is a relief to be done with this.”
The flare up occurred over the purchase of six hats valued at $12 each for an all-star team, Lazzara said. Those hats were purchased without a vote of the Little League board authorizing the expense, which violates the organization’s rules, he said. When Lazzara pointed out the issue he said he received nothing but grief from the other five board members, some of whom responded with threats to involve the police if he didn’t stop harassing them.
Terry Watson, the league’s auxiliary board representative to the board of directors, handled the transaction on behalf of board treasurer Dave Pyan, Lazzara said. Eventually, Pyan paid the $72 for the hats, resolving the finances of the matter, Lazzara said. However, the larger issue of how the organization-which is run by a handful of longtime friends-will police itself in the future has not been dealt with, Lazzara said.
“As far as I’m concerned, whether it’s $12 or $1,200 it’s parents’ money and it’s sponsor money,” Lazzara said.
Watson declined to comment on the matter, but said she enjoyed working with the league this summer.
“I don’t want to discuss the accusations,” Watson said. “We are all OK. We’re all a good group.”
Until the league elects a new president, Vice President Rich Gray will act in Lazzara’s stead. Gray initially denied that any accusations were traded by board members but later acknowledged that Lazzara was “very unhappy about certain things.”
Lazzara’s misunderstanding of how purchases are authorized, Gray said, should not taint the successes achieved by league volunteers in the past year.
“It doesn’t matter who purchased anything,” Gray said. “Materials can be purchased by anybody.
“There’s no mismanagement.”
Lazzara’s wife Kristine Lazzara also resigned from her seat as a member of the league’s auxiliary board. Anthony Lazzara said he hopes to return next season as a coach, but no longer wishes to serve on the board.
Several months ago Gray suggested to the Little League board that he may resign at the end of the season, but said in the last week he has not made a decision. Kathy Doss, also an auxiliary board member, confirmed that she has since moved from Forest Park and is considering whether she will continue working with the league next year.
The league is not obligated to replace the vacancy left by Lazzara, Gray said, since it was the board’s decision to expand its usual five members to six. In choosing a new league president, the board is expected to hold a public meeting in the next several months and those in attendance will vote on who should fill the position.