CORAL SPRINGS, Florida (CBS4) - A veteran baseball umpire who was hospitalized after a catcher reportedly assaulted him is speaking out, saying "no one has the right to hurt a sports official."
A 21-year-old catcher from Coral Springs has been arrested in this case and charged with felony battery on a sports official.
"I would say you should not hurt a sports official even if it's a bad call because we are human and we do miss calls," said 39-year-old Luis Alvarado, who spent Sunday night at Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood after he said a catcher's mask was thrown at him and hit him in the back.
In an exclusive interview with our sister station WFOR CBS4, Alvarado said, "You don't have the right to confront someone or have physical contact or aggression for any sports official."
Alvarado said his story raises larger concerns about a growing number of attacks nationwide on sports officials and umpires and referees.
Alvarado told CBS4 he came to South Florida in 2007 after growing up in Puerto Rico. He said he's been an umpire for 24 years and said, "This is the first time I have been attacked, ever, at all levels. I was never attacked in Puerto Rico."
He said he was an umpire on Sunday at an amateur National Adult Baseball Association League game when the incident happened at Mullins Park in Coral Springs.
The game was between the Marlins and the Diamondbacks.
He said Couvell was a catcher for the Marlins and he tried to pick off a runner who was leading off first base. Alvarado called him safe. He said Couvell didn't like the call and was cursing. He said Couvell took off his mask and threw it at him.
"I said that's it, you are done," said Alvarado, showing us the motion he made with his right arm. "I went to throw him out of the game then I felt this mask on my back 2 or 3 seconds after the ejection."
"He threw the mask at you?" asked CBS4 reporter Peter D'Oench.
"Yeah, he threw the mask at my back," Alvarado said.
Alvarado showed D'Oench his plastic bracelet around his wrist from Memorial Regional Hospital, where he spent Sunday night while being tested for lower back pain. He said his hip had been replaced 15 years ago after a car crash.
"I'm sore," he said. "I have pain. I went to the E.R. on Sunday night. I will need to see some doctors to see if there are any further problems. I have seen one doctor so far and things seem ok but I don't know."
Couvell's brother Luc, who was pitching, disputes Alvarado's claims.
"When he threw him out of the game, my brother stood up out of the catcher's position and threw the mask on the ground and it bounced up and he got ejected," he said. "he didn't throw it at the umpire. He threw it down and it bounced up and hit him."
Bradford Cohen, who is Couvell's attorney, said, "This is almost like a plastic hockey mask so he threw it down on the ground and it bounced up and hit the umpire. So I think to arrest him for a felony like this is a bit extreme."
"This is a plastic mask that weighs about a half a pound," said Cohen.
"From what I heard, this was blown up with incendiaries and from what I heard the umpire stayed for awhile and umpired the rest of the game and refused medical treatment," said Rick Couvell, the father of the catcher.
Alvarado said he sought treatment after the game because the pain got worse.
"The lawyer for the catcher and his father were not at the game," Alvarado said. "They don't know how I felt, how much pain I was in."
"It may have been a plastic mask, but it had some metal bars on it, just like a hockey mask," said Alvardo. "And it hurt me."
In court, a prosecutor said that protection for sports officials had become a "growing problem."
Couvell has been arrested before, according to a CBS4 check of records. In 2011, records show he was charged with possession of cannabis and drug paraphernalia by Parkland Police.
The Broward Sheriff's Office charged him with two counts of burglary of an unoccupied conveyance and grand theft.