Archive for Thursday, April 17, 2003

Baseball to review security after ump attack

Fan violence second incident at Chicago White Sox stadium in last two years

April 17, 2003

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— Major league baseball will review security at ballparks nationwide to try to prevent fan violence following an attack on an umpire Tuesday night during the White Sox game against Kansas City.

Top baseball officials were in Chicago Wednesday to investigate the assault on first-base umpire Laz Diaz, which raised concern and questions throughout the majors.

It came just three months before U.S. Cellular Field plays host to the All-Star game and about seven months after a similar attack on Royals first base coach Tom Gamboa at the stadium.

"There is no place in baseball for such deplorable fan behavior, and we urge that the guilty parties be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," commissioner Bud Selig.

Kevin Hallinan, major league baseball's security chief, and Sandy Alderson, executive vice president of baseball operations in the commissioner's office, were looking into the attack. Selig said baseball would re-examine security at all stadiums.

Last September, Gamboa was pummeled by a father and son just yards from where the fan ran onto the field and tried to tackle Diaz. Gamboa, 55, still has slight hearing loss in his right ear from last year's attack.

Security and players rushed to help the 40-year-old Diaz, who served in the U.S. Marines.

"I just turned around and got him off me," he said. "The good hand-to-hand combat they taught me worked."

Diaz was not hurt. The fan needed treatment for minor injuries at a hospital after being thrown to the ground and roughed up by players.

The fan was identified as Eric Dybas, 24, of Bolingbrook, Ill. He was charged Wednesday with aggravated battery and criminal trespassing.

"To have to deal with this yet again is really a black mark on the city and, frankly, the organization," White Sox general manager Ken Williams said Wednesday. "For it to happen twice in our city is unconscionable."

White Sox spokesman Scott Reifert said security was being beefed up for Wednesday's game. Three other fans also charged onto the field Tuesday and were charged with misdemeanor criminal trespassing.

Across town at Wrigley Field, Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said he's satisfied with the security and no changes were made Wednesday.

Still, he said there's only so much that can be done to keep fans from running onto the field during games.

"You still couldn't prevent a person, one lunatic or whatever you want to call it, from trying to get his 10 seconds of fame," Hendry said.

"I don't think you could ever say you're going to prevent it completely in any stadium: football, basketball, baseball, whatever."

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