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Fan Attacks Spiers on Field

Baseball: Astro outfielder suffers whiplash in incident at County Stadium.

September 25, 1999|TOM HAUDRICOURT | MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL

MILWAUKEE — A 23-year-old male spectator ran onto the field Friday night at County Stadium and attacked Houston Astro right fielder Bill Spiers during the Astros' 9-4 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Astros had taken the field to begin the bottom of the sixth inning when the fan jumped onto the field in the right-field corner and ran up behind an unsuspecting Spiers. The fan jumped on the back of Spiers, who was unable to shake him off.

"The whole thing caught me by surprise," said Spiers, who suffered whiplash and was removed in the top of the seventh. . "I had no idea what was happening.

"I looked down and saw blue jeans wrapped around my neck. I couldn't move, so I fell down backward trying to get him off me."

As Spiers and the fan tumbled to the ground and continued to wrestle, the entire Houston team raced to his rescue, with players joining in from the dugout and bullpen. Starting pitcher Mike Hampton began delivering kicks to Spiers' attacker.

"The good thing was he didn't have a weapon," Hampton said. "I always check right field before I deliver the first pitch. It's just a habit. I looked out there and saw the guy on Billy's back.

"It was a scary thing. My instincts just took over. My rage took over. I was pretty furious. I wanted to get him off my teammate.

"I don't know if he was drunk or on drugs or what. I hope he gets the biggest penalty he can get."

The spectator finally was pulled away and handcuffed on the field by Milwaukee County sheriff's deputies. Spiers, an infielder-outfielder with the Brewers from 1989-94, suffered scrapes on his face and was treated by a trainer before retreating to the clubhouse to replace a contact lens.

The name of the spectator was not released, but he was described by Brewer officials as a 23-year-old man from South Beloit, Ill. He faces charges of two counts of battery and one count of disorderly conduct, a sheriff's department official said.

The second battery charge could be filed because a member of the County Stadium grounds crew was injured trying to help subdue the spectator. The incident delayed the game for about 10 minutes.

The fan was being held in the Milwaukee County Jail with bail in excess of $241,000.

With his club fighting for the National League Central Division title in the waning days of the season, Houston Manager Larry Dierker was furious that one of his players was injured by a fan.

"It not only was scary, it puts us at a disadvantage because we're missing one of our main players right now," said Dierker, whose team stayed 2 1/2 games in front of the Cincinnati Reds. "I don't know when he'll be back.

"Obviously, it was disgraceful. Unsportsmanlike doesn't cover it. The only thing I can think of like that is when [tennis player] Monica Seles was attacked.

"Luckily, it was only one guy. I'm sure the Brewers' fans do not condone what the guy did."

Jeromy Burnitz, who plays right field for the Brewers, said the possibility of such attacks is always in the back of players' minds.

"I'm always wary," Burnitz said. "Every place I've ever played, including here, you have people yelling things. Wary is probably a good word."

Spiers said the spectator "never said a word" to him during the attack, and he admitted afterward to being shaken by the incident.

"In this day and age, you don't know what to think," he said. "You don't know if he's trying to hurt you or what. I think he should face the consequences."

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

DODGERS: 5

PADRES: 1

Brown gets 18th win, lowers ERA to 2.92 and drives in go-ahead run as L.A. moves into third. Page 4

MARINERS: 4

ANGELS: 3

Cooper has a promising outing, but Seattle scores two runs without a hit to win it in 10th. Page 5

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