Ah, baseball. The nostalgic green of the outfield grass. The evocative crack of bat hitting ball. The zeal of litigation and the slow slog of civil justice.
George Will say whaa?!
Three prominent local figures in youth baseball are embroiled in an intriguing lawsuit filed earlier this month. Miami attorney John H. Ruiz -- host of GenTV's Spanish-language financial advice program La Ley -- claims a Miami Killian Senior High School baseball coach and a New York Yankees scout "conspired to commit fraud and purposely lied" to fleece him of $7,000.
Ruiz owns La Ley Sports, a website that broadcasts youth baseball games and records stats and schedules. Last summer, he says, he was approached by Killian's Angel Herrera and the Yankees' Carlos Marti, who are both coaches for the Florida Legends. The elite travel ball team has included top high-school-age prospects such as Westminster Christian's David Thompson, Mater Academy's Albert Almora, and new Kansas City Royals draft pick Jack Lopez.
But the Legends were out of money, so Ruiz agreed to sponsor the team. It became the La Ley Legends. In return for paying for uniforms, equipment, travel, and tournament fees, La Ley Sports got its name on the team's jerseys and any prize money won by the squad, according to the lawsuit.
You might see where this is going. The La Ley Legends won a national qualifier in a tournament staged by the American Amateur Baseball Congress (AABC), entitling the team to a $7,000 prize. But Herrera and Marti tried to conceal the award from Ruiz, he now claims, and the Killian coach had the organization write the check out to him. He then "cashed the $7,000 award check and shared it with Marti."
Says Ruiz: "They absconded with my money."
Ruiz filed suit May 3. Though there's surely another side to the story, Herrera didn't respond to an email sent to his school account, and Marti didn't return phone messages seeking comment. AABC also didn't return Riptide's calls.
But Miami-area youth baseball is a hornet's nest of weirdness and two-bit corruption. And Ruiz's complaint already includes vague accusations of the Legends breaking Florida High School Athletic Association rules. For this suit, we're going to pick an open bleacher seat, nurse a seven-dollar beer, and watch the action unfold.
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Here's the legal complaint: