H.D. Woodson, with both graduation and the Interhigh League baseball tournament championship game scheduled the same day, opted for the ceremonies yesterday and was forced to forfeit the title, which was awarded to Dunbar, 9-0.
"I thought academics were our priority. Maybe we should have canceled graduation until after the game," said Woodson Coach Clarence (Boomer) Washington. "As of today, I quit as a coach. This league is incompetent and there isn't any leadership at all."
Washington said he had told his eight seniors the game would be rescheduled because they wouldn't have sufficient time to get to the game, which was scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Graduation was scheduled to start at 10 a.m. One Woodson senior, Willie Sparks, showed up at Banneker Field shortly after 3:30 p.m. and said, "We didn't get finished with pictures and everything (at Constitution Hall) until 2:30."
Banneker Field and Constitution Hall are about a 20-minute drive apart in the Northwest portion of the city.
Woodson won the East Division title and defeated Wilson, 6-5, to advance to its third straight title game. Both Woodson (16-3) and Dunbar (9-8) were prepared to play Wednesday afternoon but rain forced postponement.
"They knew the situation (athletic director's office), and there was no way my players could graduate, get home to change and get to the game on time," said an irate Washington. "The game could have been easily scheduled for Friday because neither school is doing a thing that day. These kids were given absolutely no consideration . . . . If they did award a forfeit to Dunbar, I will talk to my principal (Friday) and probably file a protest."
Otto Jordan, the league athletic director, said he felt Woodson had enough time to handle both obligations and had no choice but to declare a forfeit. After a 15-minute grace period, Dunbar took the field, pitcher Antoine Paige threw one pitch and plate umpire Richard Hansbury declared the game a forfeit.
"I thought Woodson should have been here," said Jordan. "Dunbar had graduation Wednesday (8 p.m.) and they were set to play that afternoon (3:30) before we canceled because of the rain . . . . "
"The kids wouldn't have had much time to leave, get dressed and get there but we had it figured out," Dunbar Coach James Conway said. " . . . This sure makes our league look bad. The game could still be played and it should be. It is for the kids."
Asked why the game wasn't originally scheduled for Friday, Jordan said the uncertainty of the weather and late date were the main reasons.