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Royal Coach Denies Exchange

September 21, 2002|ROB FERNAS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Tom Gamboa, the Kansas City Royal coach who was attacked by two fans Thursday night during a game in Chicago, denied Friday that he had an exchange with the bare-chested father and son before they slammed him to the ground.

"I have never at any time ever verbally or physically acknowledged the people in the stands," said Gamboa, a Los Angeles native and former minor league manager with the Dodgers.

Gamboa, who said he would not be afraid to return to Comiskey, did not enjoy the limelight: "It's like I'm today's Kato Kaelin. Ten years from now, somebody will point to me and say, 'That's the guy who was attacked.' Nobody likes to be remembered for that."

The father, identified by police as 34-year-old William Ligue Jr., and his 15-year-old son were led off the field at Comiskey Park in handcuffs. The elder Ligue was charged with aggravated battery, a felony, and was scheduled to appear in court today. His son was charged with two juvenile counts of aggravated battery for attacking Gamboa and hitting a White Sox security guard, an off-duty police officer. The teenager is being held in a juvenile detention center and is due in court Monday.

Ligue and his family told a law enforcement source that Gamboa verbally responded to their insults and made an obscene gesture before they attacked him in the ninth inning. "He got what he deserved," said Ligue, who has past convictions for burglary and domestic battery. About the time of the seventh inning, Ligue called a female relative on a cell phone and asked if she was watching the game. When she could not find the channel, he said, "Well then, just watch the news," the source said.

The Royals rushed to the aid of Gamboa, 54, who escaped with a few cuts and a bruised cheek. White Sox outfielder Aaron Rowand said he'd seen a folded-up pocket knife fall out of one of the fans' pockets.

Said Gamboa: "The only thing that's really got me upset even more than the incident itself is the charge that there was something going on between us."

Gamboa, a graduate of Notre Dame High in Sherman Oaks and UC Santa Barbara, is in his second year as a coach with the Royals. He spent the 2000 season as manager of the Albuquerque Dukes.

Brother John Doran, 81, a former teacher at Notre Dame High, recalled that Gamboa was a standout first baseman at the school and later coached baseball at St. John Bosco High in Bellflower.

"Tom is a good person," Doran said.

"It was just ridiculous. What's next? ... Players and coaches seem to be in danger these days."

A baseball official said the major leagues would look into whether security changes need to be made.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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