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Day of tension, solidarity

Dodgers make first appearance at AT&T Park since the vicious beating of a fan in L.A.

April 12, 2011|Maria L. La Ganga and Gale Holland

SAN FRANCISCO AND LOS ANGELES — Steven Perez, 16 and smiling, was every inch the Dodgers fan. Dodgers gear. Dodger blue threaded through the bands of his braces. The Oakdale High School student didn't think twice about sporting his team's colors. He was, after all, at AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants.

On Monday night, however, he was in a distinct minority.

The boys from Chavez Ravine -- the Giants' rivals for more than 100 years -- were in town for the first time since San Francisco season-ticket-holder Bryan Stow was savagely beaten at Dodger Stadium on opening day, and the festivities were tinged with tension.

"We go every year to the first Dodgers-Giants game, and the lack of Dodger blue is amazing," said Perez's uncle Joe Colello, a stalwart Giants fan from Oakdale.

"Giants fans are really respectful," Perez said with a blue-tinged smile. "I don't like the Giants, because it's the biggest rivalry, but they have class."

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday, April 13, 2011 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 News Desk 1 inches; 69 words Type of Material: Correction
Bryan Stow: In coverage of the beating on March 31 of Giants fan Bryan Stow at Dodger Stadium, The Times in three instances has misspelled his first name as Brian: on April 5, in an article in Section A about how the attack had united rival fans in calling for improved security, and twice on April 12, in captions on the covers of Section A and the LATExtra section.

The game was dedicated to Stow, a 42-year-old Santa Clara paramedic and father of two who traveled to Dodger Stadium on March 31 in Giants regalia. Walking through the parking lot after the game, Stow was accosted by two men, who taunted him, punched him and kicked him as he lay injured.

The suspects fled and have not been apprehended. Various rewards totaling $150,000 have been offered for information leading to their arrest. Stow remained in critical condition Monday in a medically induced coma at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center. He is undergoing further testing, but no improvement has been reported since his admission, a hospital spokesperson said.

About 100 paramedics fanned out across AT&T Park, sporting white sweatshirts bearing Stow's paramedic license number, P21732, and collecting donations to the Bryan Stow Fund. Autographed Giants, 49ers and San Jose Sharks memorabilia were sold to the highest bidders during a silent auction to raise additional money on Stow's behalf.

Earlier in the day, in Los Angeles, the Dodgers hosted a five-hour drive-up fundraiser at their home stadium. Scores of Dodger fans made their way in a slow stream up Elysian Park Drive and into Parking Lot 1, in cars and on bicycles, checkbooks in hand, to donate what they could and commiserate about what they described as a senseless incident that injured an innocent stranger and a sport they love.

The Giants ballclub contributed $10,000. Former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda wrote a check for $5,000, misty-eyed as he handed it to volunteers.

"I shed a lot of tears. He didn't deserve it, he was a nice young man," Lasorda said later in a phone interview. "This guy is in a coma in the hospital -- I mean come on, over a baseball game?

"It could have happened in any ballpark in America," he added. "I think it was very good for Dodger fans to come together to show their respect and sorrow for this young man."

Santa Monica resident Victoria Caldwell, 40, a bookkeeper for an entertainment accounting firm, said she saw news of the fundraiser on television and came down with her miniature pinscher, Minnie.

A Dodgers fan since childhood, Caldwell said she was shocked by the violence but believed it was important "to stick together and show our commitment" by helping with Stow's medical costs. The attack, she said, was an isolated incident.

Patrick Odell, 38, a "die-hard Dodgers fan" from West Los Angeles, arrived in a Hawaiian-style Dodgers shirt. "Hearing what happened just killed me," said Odell, a paralegal at a downtown law firm. "I don't think that's what Dodger fans are about."

He said his friends were vowing not to bring their kids to Dodger Stadium -- a sentiment he described as wrongheaded. Odell came with a check to show "it wasn't real baseball fans who were responsible. It was people who came apparently for no reason but to savagely attack someone."

In all, more than $60,000 was raised in Los Angeles on Monday, said American Medical Response spokesman Jason Sorrick, bringing the total raised for Stow, who worked for the company, to almost $200,000. And that's before the San Francisco donations were included.

After the teams were introduced Monday night at AT&T Park, the national anthem was crooned and the first pitch was tossed, the two teams stood somberly on the field together to talk about their storied rivalry and to beseech fans to let it continue in peace.

"We're fierce competitors, but when the last out is made, that rivalry ends -- on the field," said Giants relief pitcher Jeremy Affeldt, who choked up when thanking fans for "the love you've shown" to the Stow family. "Please respect that. In your excitement and frustration, please don't take it out on another fan."

Added Dodgers shortstop Jamey Carroll, to a round of applause: "There is no room in this game for hatred and violence."

Then the teams filed off and the chanting began.

"Beat L.A.! Beat L.A.! Beat L.A.!"

"Play ball!"

maria.laganga@latimes.com

gale.holland@latimes.com

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