Shipman resigns, Cubs go back to Legion

DILLON — Randy Shipman said he was tired of the fight.

The long-time baseball coach resigned as the leader of the Dillon Cubs last week. He steps aside after eight seasons in Dillon that included three trips to the State tournament.

“My adult whole life has been dedicated to kids, whether as an educator or as a coach,” said Shipman, who is the principal at the middle school in Dillon. “That will always be the case.”

On the heels of Shipman’s resignation, four members of the Cubs board of directors stepped down, and the club voted to return to American Legion baseball for the 2013 season.

Ken Walsh, the secretary of the league, was one of the board members to tender his resignation at a meeting Thursday night. Rick Kunts, Dennis Miotke and Jerry Goody also resigned.

Walsh stepped down after making the motion to vote on the return to Legion.

“I made the motion because we just kept getting friction on the deal,” Walsh said. “I wasn’t prepared to have the community split on this thing, so I said, ‘This is the direction we need to go in and get this over with.’ There’s no winning in this deal. It just became a nightmare.”

The “deal” Walsh is referring to is a long battle the Cubs have fought with the Montana American Legion Baseball Committee, which is made up of George Haegele, Bill Houston and Gallatin Valley Outlaws coach Duwayne Soctt.

The battle started when the Cubs took issue with the eligibility of a player on the Gallatin Valley Outlaws. It reached a boiling point when the Committee sent a letter to the Cubs informing them they would not be eligible to play Legion ball if they didn’t replace Shipman.

“If they would have kept their nose out of what goes on in Dillon, Mont., none of this would have happened,” Walsh said of the Committee’s insistence that the Cubs fire Shipman. “At the end of the day, it’s still wrong. If I had the strength, time and money, I’d fight it.”

The board voted twice — once after a couple of changes in board members — to keep Shipman, and the club put together a 59-game schedule while playing as a Senior Babe Ruth team.

The issue, though, apparently didn’t sit well with everyone in Dillon, and a push was made to switch back to Legion.

Walsh said that push was fueled by the perception — real or unreal — that the Cubs were stepping down a level of play. That perception was the topic of a couple of editorials in the Dillon Tribune.

“The community has a passion for what had been established for the last 30-plus years,” Walsh said.

Walsh, who was a member of the board for eight years, reiterated that he has no issue with anybody on the board or in Dillon. He said stepped down because he was tired of dealing with the Legion Baseball Committee.

Walsh also said Shipman shouldn’t have been the center of attention in this whole mess. Walsh said he was the one who pushed the issue with the Baseball Committee last season.

“I’m the one who fought the board,” Walsh said. “I’m the one who wrote the letter and talked to the board. Randy didn’t do anything.”

Shipman’s coaching career began at Mission Valley in 1992, and he racked up nearly 700 wins. He coached Legion and high school baseball in Montana, Idaho and Oregon before taking over the Cubs in 2005. He sent 84 players to college and one to professional baseball.

Of the 21 seniors Shipman coached in Dillon, 20 had the opportunity to play college baseball, and 14 played at that level.

“My kids have always behaved,” Shipman said. “They were great sportsmen and never had a problem. We did things the right way.”

Shipman, 48, will continue as an associate scout for the Kansas City Royals. He said he’ll actually step up his duties as a scout now that he won’t coach the Cubs.

Shipman was looking forward to coaching his son for the first time this season. He said that won’t happen because the fight got to be too much.

“I just got tired of the false accusations and people in it for selfish reasons,” said Shipman, who added that he won’t rule out a return to coaching in the future. “The last thing I want to be accused of is limiting kids from playing baseball. It’s a mess, it’s sad and I’m sick of it.”

Walsh said he’s confident the Dillon Cubs will have continued success as they move past the controversy.

“I think they’re going to be fine,” he said. “They don’t have a coach yet, but they have a few leads.”

There’s no question, Walsh said, that the Cubs are losing a top-flight coach.

“Randy and I didn’t always get along,” Walsh said. “But I think he did a heck of a job. He didn’t deserve this.” 15 comments

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  • Bill Houston
    March 23, 2013, 3:57 pm

    Mr. Foley, Mr. Walsh and Mr.Shipman
    I would like to thank you for your opinions concerning this matter for the last three or four months and also for the last eight years.
    As far as being selfish, I would like to thank the veterans of this country for giving you the right to freedom and to express your opinion as per the first amendment.

    Bill Houston
    State A Chairman
    American Legion Baseball

    • Ken Walsh@Bill Houston
      March 25, 2013, 7:46 pm

      Bill, Not sure what you are thanking me for, and not sure that I would even excect your thanks. Bill you do have the right to express your opinion, and thanks to those that have defended that right. You might point that out to Chairman Haegele, as he was very quick to express his displeasureto me when I was communicating with follow peers in the Southern Conference. Additionally you pointed out in a later post that with the Free Speech right comes with responsibility, that it should be without harm and truthful. But you and the rest of the Baseball Committee can continue to say things without fact(s). When asked to produce the “facts” the communicate goes silent. One of these days soon, you will be required to defend your so called truths regarding Randy Shipman and/or the Dillon Cubs.

      If someone tried to walk in your shoes, they would get arrested, for public intoxication. You weave the truth as if the normal… and maybe that is what is wrong. Your mirror apparently is distorted.

      Continue to justify the means…if that makes you feel better

  • Butch
    March 23, 2013, 8:39 pm

    Kevin, um Deuce, uh Mr. Houston,

    First of all I want to applaud you this time for using your real name instead of using a false name as you did in the comments in Mr. Foley’s article written on January 8th about the Dillon Cubs and Coach Randy Shipman. Remember, this is when you wrote from Fort Harrison in Helena claiming that you ‘knew so much about the case’. In fact, you guaranteed that you knew everything about the case. Of course you did because you were part of the three person committee that ruined baseball in Dillon, Montana for my kid and many others and have ruined baseball in the nest of the state with your stupid actions and decisions. And you say that you want to help kids? You claim that you “would like to thank the veterans of this country for giving you the right to freedom and to express your opinion as per the first amendment” yet you would not afford Coach Shipman and the Dillon Cubs Baseball Program that same first amendment right. You are just a blowhard and you will get what is coming to you. At least this time you didn’t libel Mr. Shipman as you did in the January 8th article comments when you wrote from Fort Harrison under the guise of ‘Kevin’ and ‘Deuce’ and that is probably a step in the right direction for you. I am not sure what Mr. Shipman is going to do but if it were me you would be in legal trouble. Mr. Houston, you really aren’t fooling anyone who knows you and knows Mr. Shipman and knows baseball. You are the problem with American Legion Baseball in Montana and why it continues to decline. I wonder what your superiors at the Veterans Administration where you used a government computer during the day to post under a fake name, or General Chairman George Haegele of the American Legion Baseball Committee or Veterans anywhere in America would think of your boneheaded actions. I think they would not be happy with you to know what you did and I am sure that is why you wrote under the fictitious names of ‘Kevin’ and ‘Deuce.’ Apparently it was to hide your real identity and not allow a fellow American to voice his or their opinion. By not allowing the Dillon Cubs to question the violation of your own rules of a certain team whose coach also happens to be on the three person committee that committed the violation of the rules is unreal, not to mention an obvious conflict of interest which has been pointed out numerous times. I think National is now looking into the actions of you and your committee as well as others and I think you will be revealed. I shut you up last time with my post in the January 8th Foley article when I spoke the truth and hopefully this will as well. However, this time since you are using your real name maybe we can finally get you to answer the truth about the illegal player used by the Gallatin Valley Outlaws that led to this entire mess. You claim freedom of speech every time you speak yet blame Coach Shipman for standing up for his players, his program and his community and take his speech rights away. It would seem to me, and to many others, that if you were a real veteran with any integrity and character you would be rushing to Coach Shipman’s defense and standing up for following the rules instead of covering for someone who isn’t. As I said earlier I believe you will get what is coming to you for not allowing us to choose who we want to Coach our program and there are many out there who can’t wait to see it happen. I know Coach Shipman personally and know that he is a moral and decent man who was standing up for our players. I also know he is a man of character unlike you.

  • Henry
    March 23, 2013, 10:05 pm

    So when is the 3 person committee hiring a new coach for Dillon? This is sad, Bill look up the word dictator before you thank our veterans, we have fought several wars to remove them and I believe you part of a committee acting like one.

  • Aaron
    March 24, 2013, 7:42 am

    First of all, Butch nailed it. Thank you, Butch, for further revealing what kind of person Kevin, err Deuce, err BILL HOUSTON is. Hopefully others will also see the transparency of his character, if they haven’t already. He’s just not a good guy.

    How someone like BILL HOUSTON, who clearly knows very very little about baseball (although I would suspect he considers himself an expert), is even on this “committee” is laughable. Between his ignorance, selfishness, the obvious conflict of interest, and general incompetence, BILL HOUSTON has contributed to the decline of baseball in the state of Montana (and make no mistake, the decline has been drastic), and now Dillon. Congratulations, big guy.

    I hope Shipman is back in baseball soon. A man with his integrity and baseball knowledge should be coaching and probably won’t be out of the game long. People and players in Dillon will soon realize just how good they had it.

  • Bill Houston
    March 24, 2013, 10:00 am

    First of all I not sure where you get your facts, but as far as the other names you mentioned in your reply Butch, I have no idea what you are talking about. This is the only time I have answered Mr. Foley’s infamous articles. Walk a mile on my shoes for the last 20 years and do a little better job in your research.



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