Fans on the Field, Players in the Stands

Earlier this month a 17-year old fan in Philadelphia was tasered by police in front of 45,000 as the kid ran on the field and interrupted the game between the Phillies and Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park.

For decades there have been incidents of not only fans running onto the field, but players themselves going into the stands after drunk and belligerent fans.

But they certainly were not tasered with 50,000 volts. Holy crap.

On a number of occasions, I saw fans run onto the field at Tiger Stadium only to be apprehended by the security people where they were either simply kicked out of the stadium or sometimes taken into custody and charged with disorderly conduct.

At a Wings game in the early 1980s at Joe Louis Arena, I witnessed several New York Ranger players leave their bench and go into the stands after some spectators who poured beer on them.

And of course who could ever forget the riot at the Palace in 2004 when Indiana Pacer Ron Artest and several teammates flew into the stands swinging their fists at anyone around them because an idiot threw a cup of pop at them.

Believe it or not, that very morning I interviewed Gordie Howe, and one of the many questions I asked him was whether he had any altercations with fans.

Besides mentioning that he once slammed his stick through the fencing (before glass) and nailed a belligerent fan in the face during in an out-of-town game, Howe told me that while playing for Houston in the WHA with his sons Mark and Marty, he went into the stands after a fan while a police officer tried to physically restrain him. Howe finally stopped dead in his tracks when he heard one of his boys yell, “Let go of him, you pig!”

Ty Cobb went into the stands to belt a fan at least once, and in 1961 the Tigers’ temperamental slugger Rocky Colavito jumped the railing in New York behind the visitors’ dugout in a failed attempt to beat the living day light out of heckler who was harassing The Rock’s 60-year old father.

No one condones the disruption of the game by unruly fans who usually have had one too many or players who decide to take matters into their own hands.

But as long as we have spectator sports, you are going to see some pretty crazy stuff on the part of unruly fans and players who go over the edge after being fed up with some pretty bad behavior.

Tigers outfielder Rocky Colavito is thrown out of the game and escorted out of the stands after he jumped the railing at Yankee Stadium to go after a fan who was heckling his father in 1961.