Teen players face animal cruelty charges
Two Texas high school baseball players accused of sacrificing chickens in a superstitious ritual to end their slump have been charged with cruelty to livestock animals.
Benbrook Police Sgt. John Van Ness said Thursday the case has been turned over to a Tarrant County juvenile court, where a decision will be made on whether to prosecute the teens, whose names are not being released.
Police in the Fort Worth suburb said the 15- and 16-year-old ”engaged in acts that caused the death of two baby chickens” on the Western Hills High School baseball field during spring break two weeks ago. Police said superstition about a slump in baseball performance could have played a part.
The boys have been kicked off the team for the rest of the year and were disciplined, said Barbara Griffith, a Fort Worth schools spokeswoman, who declined to provide further details, citing student privacy laws.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent the school principal a letter Thursday offering materials to launch an animal rights club there.
”Teaching students about animal issues helps prevent violence and helps students apply concepts of respect and kindness toward animals in their own lives,” Elizabeth Graffeo, PETA’s TeachKind program manager, wrote to Western Hills High School.
The school did not immediately return a call to The Associated Press on Thursday.
Cruelty to livestock animals is a class A misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $4,000 fine – but only if the person is a first-time offender and charged as an adult.
Cases are handled differently in the juvenile system, where those convicted can be sentenced to probation or time in a youth detention facility, depending on the offense.
Western Hills High School baseball coach Bobby McIntire told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that ”baseball is very superstitious” and the players possibly got the idea from some sports movies.
Baseball has long been associated with superstitions, with players and even fans wearing ”lucky” clothing or items and repeating routines if they think it helped their teams win.
Former Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra would do an elaborate routine adjusting his batting gloves before each pitch during an at-bat – every single time.
San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy has said stress is only one reason he hasn’t been able to quit dipping. For years as a manager, he dipped in the first, fifth and eighth innings.
”Superstitious as much as anything,” he told The AP last summer, several months before the Giants won the World Series.