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Feeney Makes Obscene Gesture at Padre Game

September 25, 1988|BILL PLASCHKE

Chub Feeney, president of the San Diego Padres, chose an unusual way to show his gratitude on Fan Appreciation Night in San Diego Saturday, answering hecklers with an obscene gesture viewed by many in the crowd of 22,509 and a cable television audience.

In the middle of the seventh inning of a 3-0 Padre victory over the Houston Astros, two men paraded a banner reading, "Scrub Chub," along the plaza level, two levels below Feeney's seat in the owner's box. Feeney stepped down to the front of the box and flashed an obscene gesture with his right hand. He then turned the hand around and waved.

While fans booed, the cameras of the San Diego Cable Sports Network quickly turned away, and the telecast went to a commercial. When it returned to the ballpark, announcer Ted Leitner explained the gesture, "And Chub says we're No. 1."

In a phone call later with a pool reporter, Feeney denied giving the gesture, although several nearby fans said he made one.

"I would never have given an obscene gesture," Feeney said. "That's absolutely ridiculous. It was two guys walking around with a sign, and I waved to them. What's the big deal? I thought it was kind of funny. I deny giving an obscene gesture."

Feeney, 67, was expected to retire at the end of the season. It is not known whether this will hasten that decision. Owner Joan Kroc left the game early.

Feeney has been in the center of controversy since coming out of retirement to take over the club presidency on June 10, 1987. He has drawn criticism from players and the media for his refusal to sign free agents last winter and his delay in negotiating with current Padre free agents.

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