Alleged Assault Against Des Moines Umpire Called ‘Embarrassing’ by Witnesses

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Regardless of the ball being fair or foul, Rae Ann Smith says it was clear that Lance Ulrich crossed a line.

"He was swearing at him, saying, 'What are you going to do old man? What are you going to do to me now?" said Smith.

She witnessed the alleged assault on an umpire over a foul ball call during a Sunday men's slow pitch league game at the Greater Des Moines Softball Complex.  Smith said, "Everybody was shocked. You should have heard it when he shoved him down."

Ulrich was arrested by Des Moines police and is facing an assault charge.  "It was the most embarrassing thing I`ve seen in quite some time.  He's a grown man.  He should know better than that," said Smith.

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George Davis is the president of the Greater Des Moines Umpire Association and provides umpires for the Des Moines Parks and Recreation leagues like the one on Sunday.  "It's not a good situation whatsoever," Davis said.

Davis says the umpire`s broken wrist is on the mend.  "I think it was broken in three places.  He`s going to see a specialist today," said Davis.  It hasn't dampened the umpire's spirit.  Davis said, "He's anxious to get back out on the field, but he's going to have to be health-wise safe before we allow him to go back."

Davis claims in the last five years there have been at least four assaults on Greater Des Moines Umpire Association umpires, and it is a big reason for their recent umpire shortage.  Davis said, "Sometimes as a society we need to take a deep breath and realize it is recreation at the end of the day."

It's a day Smith says should have been all about fun.  She said, "I don`t understand why they have to take it so seriously.  We are not professional ball players. We are there to have a good time."

Davis says Ulrich may end up being suspended from Des Moines Parks and Rec Activities and also National Softball Organization leagues.

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