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Firecracker a Joke, Dodgers' Davis Says : Investigation: He acknowledges that Mets' Coleman threw an M-80, reportedly injuring three.

July 26, 1993|CHRIS DUFRESNE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Three bystanders reportedly were treated for minor injuries Saturday after an M-80 firecracker thrown by Met outfielder Vince Coleman out of Dodger Eric Davis' car exploded in the players' parking lot at Dodger Stadium.

Units of the Los Angeles fire and police departments are investigating the incident, which occurred at 4:10 after a game between the Dodgers and Mets.

"It was Coleman, man" Salvador Hernandez, an eyewitness, said in the Dodger parking lot after Sunday's game. "He was in a car with Davis and some other guy. He just tossed it out the window and it landed about six feet away. It was one of those M-80s. It exploded big.

"I saw him and Davis get into the car, that's how I knew it was him. Right after they threw it, they drove off real fast, laughing. He definitely meant to throw it at the fans."

A police spokesman said Sunday that no police report had been filed because the case is being handled by the fire department's arson unit.

The Associated Press reported that a 1-year-old girl suffered an eye and cheek injury, an 11-year-old boy suffered a cut shin and a 33-year-old woman complained of vertigo and ringing in the ears.

Fire department spokesman Jim Wells said the department wouldn't comment on the case until the investigation is completed.

Speaking to reporters before Sunday's game, Davis acknowledged that Coleman threw the firecracker out of his car, which Davis was driving.

Davis said the firecracker exploded about six feet from his car, inside a secured lot that fans cannot enter.

He said the nearest fans were outside the guarded fence, about 20 feet away.

Davis said he thought nothing of the incident until Fred Claire, the Dodgers' executive vice president, phoned him at home Saturday night.

"I was very shocked that Fred called," Davis said. "Vince was with me and thought it was a joke. We all did."

Davis said the firecracker was not directed at the bystanders.

"So don't try to make something out of it," he said. "Why do people throw firecrackers? Everybody throws firecrackers. The guy had a firecracker and threw it six feet from my car. We were laughing about it when we drove off. It's not like it was something out of the ordinary. What we were laughing about was the firecracker. Every time someone lights a firecracker, you laugh. At least I do. I'm a humorous type of guy."

Coleman would not comment on the incident, telling reporters before the game to "keep the . . . out of my locker."

Bobby Bonilla of the Mets, who also was in the car, declined to comment.

Davis declined further comment on the incident after the game.

The Dodgers referred all questions to the Mets.

"It's their player," said Jim Italiano, the Dodgers' director of stadium operations. "They're the ones involved, they're the ones handling it, internally, from their side."

The Mets would confirm only that an investigation will be conducted.

"The Mets are aware of the incident," said Jay Horwitz, the team's publicity director. "It's under investigation now and, other than that, we really don't have any further comment."

Tommy Hawkins, the Dodgers' vice president of communications, said the issue will be reviewed.

"It's a complicated thing," he said. "I can say we express concern that Eric was driving the car, I'm sure it was nothing premeditated. It was an incident in which he was involved, but the responsibility must ride with the person who threw the device."

Italiano said security at the gated parking lot is very tight and he foresees no change in policy. A security attendant, who asked not to be identified, said he was told Sunday by superiors not to discuss the matter with reporters.

James Calhoun, another eyewitness, said: "I thought it was a bomb at first. It kicked paper out everywhere. I don't know who threw it, but it was lucky no one was seriously hurt."

This is not the first firecracker incident involving the Mets. After a July 7 game against San Diego at New York, a Met player tossed a firecracker near reporters in the locker room. The Mets acknowledged the incident, but said Coleman was not the culprit then.

Coleman was involved in an earlier off-field incident on April 26, when the outfielder hit pitcher Dwight Gooden with a golf club while taking a practice swing in the clubhouse.

Times staff writers Kenneth Reich and Houston Mitchell contributed to this story.

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