KINGSPORT, Tenn. — One Appalachian League team's season has been canceled and the team disbanded after a player made numerous threats and was arrested.
Matthew Taylor, 21, formerly of the Kingsport Axmen, sent messages containing the phrases “Columbine 2.0,” “I’ll kill everyone single one of y’all,” and “they took my life I’ll take theirs," over the social media app Snapchat.
In an open letter from Kingsport Axmen President Chris Allen, he said on behalf of the team:
"The loyalty of the baseball fans of Kingsport drives us in everything we do. For that reason, we know we owe you transparency, and we are writing to update you on difficult events that have impacted our season.
Recently, Kingsport Axmen players experienced troubling and concerning behavior involving a former teammate, who is now under the care of medical professionals. Since becoming aware of this matter, Boyd Sports, USA Baseball and MLB all have aimed to act with the best interests of the welfare of the players and staff in mind. After discussions regarding these unusual circumstances, USA Baseball made the decision to allow the players of the Kingsport Axmen to return home.
Because of this turn of events, we are adjusting as necessary. We are in the process of assembling a travel team with a different group of players to complete the season, because a decision like this affects not only the Kingsport Axmen but every other team in the league’s schedule. We do not want to let down our other nine partners in the Appalachian League.
This has been a challenge for all of us, and we appreciate your understanding and loyalty. Boyd Sports is committed to our fans, season ticket holders and corporate partners in Kingsport long term. We thank you for your continued support and look forward to the bright future of baseball in Kingsport."
The Axmen are in the process of recruiting an entirely new roster and coaching staff in an attempt to finish the season as the Kingsport Road Warriors, which would play only road games for the remainder of the season that ends next month.
The Danville Otterbots played the Axmen last Friday evening, marking the final scheduled contest between the two teams this season regardless. The Otterbots won 4-2.