The story of the failed Pioneer Pony Baseball League and its president, Ryan Rhoads, reflects several months of reporting and research.
The News Tribune relied primarily on 665 pages of investigative records from Tacoma police, filed in February with the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office. Additional records came from superior courts in Pierce, King and Kitsap counties; Washington secretary of state’s office; Pierce County auditor’s office; and individuals associated with the Pioneer League.
The News Tribune also interviewed Rhoads and his business partner, Eric Jacobs.
During the interview, Rhoads said many of the statements in the story were “not true.”
“It’s bits and pieces made into a story,” he said. “The people have given you bits and pieces of the truth.”
He did not dispute the authenticity of the records compiled and written by a police investigator, or records from various court actions.
Jacobs said he had nothing to do with CitySport, an investment venture promoted by Rhoads that went sour. He said his only involvement was tied to the baseball league.
Rhoads asked The News Tribune to speak to several people. He said they would vouch for his character. One was Jacobs and one was a former Pioneer league board member, who declined to speak for the record.
One reference was a Metro Parks Tacoma official who was familiar with the contract between the agency and the Pioneer league. He said both sides fulfilled their responsibilities concerning the contract; he said he did not know Rhoads well.
Another reference was Kyle Stancato, a Pierce County resident whose sons played in the Pioneer League in 2012 and 2013. Stancato also coached one of the teams.
“We had a great experience,” he said. “Multiple people had other issues going on that were part of their organization itself. Everything that we were charged for, it was all accurate, it was all above board. Everything that we expected, we were able to receive.”
Stancato said he didn’t do business with Rhoads.
“The business side of things I can’t vouch for personally,” he said. “I’ve never done business with him.”
Rhoads also named Scott Shellgren as a character reference. Shellgren, baseball coach at Lakes High School, has children who played in the Pioneer League in 2011.
“I know a lot of people had problems with (Rhoads),” Shellgren said. “But our schedule got filled and we played. It was a decent experience for our kids. The first year I thought the league was ran well. At the end of the season, I heard a bunch of rumors, but he treated our team fairly well. He treated our kids pretty fairly.
“I was an assistant coach and just showed up and we played baseball. I don’t know anything beyond that — what the money situation was.”