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J.A. Adande

Dodgers and Angels Knew of the Risks

September 30, 2004|J.A. Adande

Fans around the league have chucked coins, batteries and even a cellphone at defenseless outfielders. It's pathetic that so many losers live such miserable lives that they need to justify their existences with physical threats and taunts.

Neither side can win. No matter how much satisfaction you get from belittling a player, at the end of the night he still gets into a nicer car than yours and drives to a nicer home than yours.

And no player could survive the public backlash if he returned the fire on a fan. Ask Texas' chair-throwing reliever Frank Francisco.

It'll end badly every time. Just like a team that ignores the flammable outbursts of a player's past and thinks it won't get burned itself.

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J.A. Adande can be reached at j.a.adande@latimes.com. To read previous columns by Adande, go to latimes.com/adande.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

The Fight Club

Some of the most infamous baseball altercations involving fans and major leaguers:

* Ty Cobb jumps into stands,1912: Yankee fans heckle Detroit's Cobb daily until he loses his temper, jumps into stands and punches a fan, who had little defense since he had only one hand. Cobb was suspended but was back on the field in a week.

* Babe Ruth chases fan in stands, 1922: Fans boo Ruth after he was called out trying to stretch a single into a double and was ejected for complaining about the call. Ruth mocked the crowd with a bow before a fan called him a "bleeping" bum. Ruth jumped on the dugout roof and chased the heckler, who ran away. Ruth returned to the dugout roof and yelled to the stands: "Come on down and fight! Anyone who wants to fight, come down on the field! Ah, you're all alike, you're all yellow!" Ruth was given a short suspension and a $200 fine.

* Fans attack Jimmy Piersall, 1961: Two Yankee fans come out of the center field stands to attack Cleveland's Piersall, who knocked down one with a punch, prompting the other to run away. No penalties were assessed. In fact, Yankee fans cheered Piersall as he left the field.

* Reggie Smith fights Giant fan, 1981: The Dodger outfielder takes abuse from Candlestick Park fans before he loses his temper, runs into the stands and begins fighting a fan. Adjacent fans help fight off Smith, prompting Dodgers to come to his rescue and escalate the incident into a Dodgers vs. Giant fans brawl. Smith was ejected, eight fans were charged with misdemeanors and the original heckler was hospitalized after a short jail stay.

* Atlanta fans join beanball war, 1984: A beanball war involving Atlanta and San Diego escalated into brawls in the second, fifth, eighth and ninth innings. A fan got into the act when he slammed a mug of beer on Kurt Bevacqua's head, prompting the Padre to climb onto the dugout in pursuit before policemen stepped in the way. Braves Chris Chambliss and Jerry Royster tangled with another unruly fan, prompting more ruckuses in the stands. Five fans left the game in handcuffs, both managers were ejected and 12 players were ejected.

* Albert Belle hits fan with baseball, 1991: Fan yells out sarcastic invitation to Belle, "Hey, Joey, keg party at my place after the game." Besides his displeasure for being called "Joey," Belle had spent the off-season in an alcohol rehabilitation program. So Belle responded by picking up a ball and throwing it at the fan, sitting approximately 15 feet away. The ball struck the fan in the chest, leaving a huge welt. Belle was suspended for a week and fined.

* Brewer fan attacks Bill Spiers, 1999: Milwaukee fan runs out of right-field stands and attacks Houston's Bill Spiers, a former Brewer. Teammates help to fight off the fan but not before Spiers was bloodied, bruised and suffered whiplash from the attack. The fan was arrested on charges of battery and disorderly conduct.

* Dodger bullpen rumbles with Cub fans, 2000: Cub fans were showering the Dodger bullpen with beer and tried to steal the cap of Chad Kreuter. The catcher retaliates by going into the stands, with coaches John Shelby and Rick Dempsey right behind. Nine days after the melee, 16 players and three coaches were suspended.

* Fans attack first-base coach, 2002: A man and his 15-year-old son attack Kansas City coach Tom Gamboa in the ninth inning. The two were charged with aggravated battery and mob action. The father was sentenced to 30 months probation and the son five years. Gamboa suffered permanent hearing loss from the beating.

* Fan goes after Brian Jordan, 2003: As team trainers tended to Eric Gagne, who had tried to bare hand a grounder up the middle, a fan rushed onto the Dodger Stadium field and headed toward left fielder Brian Jordan. Center fielder Jason Romano sprinted toward Jordan and intercepted the fan, punching and body-slamming the man as Dodger security personnel rushed to the scene. The fan was arrested and charged with trespassing.

* Texas Ranger throws chair at fan, 2004: Texas pitcher Frank Francisco throws a bullpen chair into the stands in response to heckling from Oakland fans, whose seats are only a few feet from the visitor bullpen. The chair struck two fans, breaking the nose of one. A ruckus ensued, causing a 19-minute delay of the game. No players were ejected and no fans arrested. Francisco was suspended for 15 games, a teammate was suspended for seven games and another teammate and a coach for five.

Researched by Athan Atsales

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