Fan Violence in Baseball

The other day the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox met at Wrigley Field. Nothing unusual. Two teams from the same city, intense rivalry, but there is no excuse for the actions of the fans that day. Cub fans were frustrated. At the time they were 1-10 in their last 11 games. When A.J. Pierzynski hit a two-out, ninth-inning home run, that would eventually give the White Sox the victory, the frustration boiled over into throwing debris, including plastic bottles and baseballs, onto the field. The game was delayed for 10 minutes. What did they think this would accomplish? Did they think that by pelting their own players with garbage, they would inspire them to do better? Did they take to time to realize that if all the junk was not picked up, if the crew missed one bottle, and a player from either team stepped on that bottle, that it could cause serious injury. That is not being a fan. A fan supports their team through the bad times as well as the good. What it is, is being totally irresponsible, with no regard to the safety of the players or the other fans for that matter.

Unfortunately it is not an isolated incident. In 2000 back-up Dodgers catcher Chad Kreuter was sitting in the bullpen when a fan hit him in the head and stole Krueter’s cap. In 1999 in Milwaukee Berley W. Visgar, a 23-year-old from South Beloit, Ill., jumped out of the stands and tackled Astros right fielder Bill Spiers.

Even when their team wins, these fans (I can think of something else to call them) cannot behave in a civilized manner and let every one enjoy the victory.

Take the story of Victoria Snelgrove.

On the night the Red Sox clinched the American League Pennant in 2004 she was at Fenway Park. Fans celebrated by starting fires, overturning cars, destroying property and attacking the police. Victoria was not one of them. She was there to enjoy the game and go home. Fifteen people were hurt, Victoria, 1 week short of her 22nd birthday, was killed, not by the fans directly, but by being shot in the eye by a pepper spray ball fired by the police.. As she lay bleeding on the sidewalk outside Fenway Park the crowd scattered No o ne thought to help her. Now the police are at least partly to blame. Maybe if they had taken stronger action sooner instead of letting things go on in the hope it would quiet down, it would not have happened, but if the fans had behaved in a responsible way, they would not have had to fire the gun.

Action needs to be taken on fan violince and not just on paper. And not just by the courts. Baseball itself must take a stand on violence, so the teams and fans can exist in a safe environment. Back in 2003 the Illinois State Senate passed a bill with stricter penalties, up to a year in jail for going onto the field and up the $1000 fine for battery. But it needs to be enforced and not only in Illinois

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