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Plenty of fans and maybe even some players have had their suspicions that a referee or umpire might be under the influence during a game. Few can say they've seen an official arrested for just that offense while the game was still going on.
Count those attending a Princeville (AL) High School junior varsity baseball game among those few, as umpire Derek Bryant was arrested for public intoxication with just one inning left in the game.
It wasn't Bryant's bad calls that got him accused of being drunk, it was his bad breath. According to witnesses, Bryant had been umpiring for several hours before his arrest and no one thought he was drinking during the game. But law enforcement was called in after coaches smelled alcohol on Bryant's breath.
As it turns out, Bryant admitted to drinking earlier in the day, presumably after he completed a shift for Huntsville Emergency Medical Services. Officers allegedly also discovered liquor in Bryant's water bottle. "From my understanding they confirmed there was alcohol in the water bottle," Morgan County Schools Superintendent Bill Hopkins told Huntsville's WHNT. "I wasn't even sure that it wasn't a joke when I first heard it. And then to have it confirmed was completely shocking."
Hopkins was quick to distance the school district from Bryant. "They assign individuals to the game, said Hopkins. "We have no knowledge of who the individuals are until they arrive. And typically we don't even know names. They're given umpire numbers." Umpires are employees of the Greater Huntsville Umpire's Association, not the school district.
Bryant might not be in trouble with the school but he's certainly in trouble with the police. A person is guilty of public intoxication under Alabama law if he "appears in a public place under the influence of alcohol, narcotics or other drug to the degree that he endangers himself or another person or property." While Bryant may not be facing some extra innings in jail, he might be looking at a fine and a strike on his criminal record.
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