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Umpire Jim Neely suing parent coach accused of attacking him during youth baseball game in New Jersey

CBS New York 7/27/2022 Lisa Rozner

BRANCHBURG, N.J. -- A 72-year-old umpire who was attacked by a parent coach during a 13-and-under baseball game in New Jersey in June is speaking out.

The umpire suffered a concussion and a broken jaw.

Tuesday afternoon, he sat down exclusively with CBS2's Lisa Rozner and explained why he's now suing the parent and several others.

Just a week ago, doctors removed wires that kept Jim Neely's jaws wired shut. The baseball umpire showed CBS2 the limited range he can open his mouth now.

"Just enough to get a fork in," he said.

It's part of the severe injuries he says he suffered June 4 when police say 40-year-old parent coach Jerry Otero, of Staten Island, punched Neely during a 13-and-under boys baseball game in Branchburg.

READ MORE: U.S. Amateur Baseball League says 72-year-old umpire suffered broken jaw after being punched by Staten Island coach

Neely is suing Otero, Otero's team, the New York Prospects, its president, and parents from the team, as well as the U.S. Amateur Baseball League (USABL), which runs the tournament.

Neely says on that day, first, Otero complained about a call, then, when the umps announced the score was 16 to nothing in favor of the New Jersey team, the Staten Island coach allegedly got hot.

"I started walking up the first base line to go to my position. That's when I realized that this coach was next to me and this coach said to me, 'You're a piece of expletive.' I said, 'That's it, you're ejected,'" Neely said.

He says as he walked over to inform the head coach of the Staten Island team, he didn't realize Otero followed him.

"Turned in front of me, hit me, my head went this way, my head recoiled back," Neely said. "The reality is I couldn't see even the bottom of his collar, that's how big he was, alright? So all's I see is white. Hits me, I come back, and as I'm coming back, of course, my first thought is am I going to get hit again?"

Instead, he says, Otero ran to his truck and drove off as Neely stood there with blood in his mouth, waiting for police. He says some parents from the Staten Island team yelled at him, with at least one blaming the umpire.

"'It was all his fault. He started it. He got what he deserved,'" Neely said.

By phone, Otero told CBS2 he has no comment. The head of the Prospects, the Staten Island team, said he didn't want to comment before speaking with his attorney.

"What happened here was completely unacceptable, OK? People have lost perspective as to what youth sports are about. It's about the kids," said Neely's attorney, Andrew O'Connor. "We're bringing a lawsuit to try and make change."

The lawsuit is asking for money to cover medical bills now and in the future.

The Somerset County prosecutor has charged Otero with aggravated assault. A pre-indictment conference is scheduled for Aug. 1.

Neely says he has been an umpire for decades and says he hopes doctors clear him to get back on the field in the fall.

His lawsuit does name the league that runs the tournament. A rep told CBS2 it can't comment due to pending litigation, but "it continues to wish Jim nothing but the best in his recovery."

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