I want to start this by saying that this story is second hand…it was told to me by a person I know well and I have no reason to doubt what he told me. I have tried my best not to elaborate, expand or otherwise fill in the blanks from what I was told.
Opening Day: Already there was tension in the stands, thanks to the planned outcry of those who decided to make a political statement instead of practicing the lines of “Take me out to the ball game.” Florida’s new governor, Rick Scott, was to throw out the ceremonial first pitch that would blissfully signal the start of another baseball season.
Meanwhile, in the left field stands, another drama was unfolding, before the first pitch, that should never happen at a baseball game…even more so a Rays game. Maybe I’m being a bit naive here, but Rays fans have, for the most part, treated other fans with respect. If you happen to be wearing a Red Sox or Yankee jersey I’d say you were exempt from good behavior from the local fans, but overall taking in a game at the Trop is typically a pretty sane affair.
The story then, as recounted to me:
A (allegedly) very drunk fan (who I will refer to as drunk fan for the story) was yelling insults at another fan. No word on the sobriety of fan number two, but number one was pretty shellacked from what I was told. At some point the testy repartee got heated, and then drunk fan went after fan number two (whom we will call 2 from this point out.) Drunk fan hit 2, sending him into the row below and on top of an older woman. Drunk fan then jumped on 2 and started swinging…in the process, he also wailed on the lady who was pinned beneath two and could only cover her face. Apparently drunk fan was so out of it or enraged (and likely a combination of the two) that he couldn’t differentiate between the person who had incensed him so greatly and a little old lady out to enjoy the home opener of her local professional baseball team.
(To say my jaw dropped and my eyes popped out of my head would evoke pretty much exactly how I felt as I listened to this story. I have no doubt as to its veracity as I know the person who told it to me quite well. He isn’t one to exaggerate in this case.)
Apparently this lady was at the game with her husband, who, again from the eye witness account, jumped up and started wailing on the guy who had been beating his wife. Fans then interceded (although apparently some were voting to hold the perp and let the old man take a few more shots) and pulled the combatants apart. Allegedly, apparently, from what I was told etc., etc when the first security person arrived the drunk claimed no wrong doing and was told to take his seat.
By now the entire section is near-riot status, and police are sprinting to take charge. The drunk was told by the males who witnessed his assault that on his next trip for a drink, hot dog or to relieve himself he would, in essence, get beaten…badly. There were quite a few fans who were extremely upset and pointed to said fan when the police arrived, and he was summarily escorted out of the stands.
I don’t know what the final disposition of this was. The woman who was assaulted apparently was seen signing a police report on the incident. I hope for her sake that whoever this person was is penalized harshly. Much like the disturbing news out of Los Angeles of two San Francisco Giants fans who were assaulted and beaten, leaving one in critical condition, this kind of thing does not belong at our sporting events.Honestly, and I know this will be unpopular, but alcohol seems to be at the forefront of many of these heinous deeds. I don’t personally drink at the games…I can get a six pack and put it in the fridge at home for what they charge for a single, draft beer…and honestly as a beer snob, I’m not a fan of flat, warm beer at any time…but it would not hurt my feelings if they stopped selling beer altogether if it would significantly reduce this idiocy. This is a game. It is supposed to be fun. Why would any one take their spouse or family to a game if it’s going to be reduced to such ridiculous thuggery? The fans that are over the top in their zealous pride of their team need to get a grip!
Hopefully someone who was at the game and witnessed this can chime in. I’d love to hear from others who were there when this all went down. Feel free to email me at rayhawksblog at google dot come or post a comment and give us the dirt.