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TFD: Our decade-old story of seeing a fan fall at a baseball game

Posted by: Michael Rand under Professional baseball Updated: July 7, 2010 - 5:25 PM

It was May of 2000. We were on the very first official Great Baseball Road Trip. During a Red Sox/Yankees game -- one that featured a Yankees fan shouting unspeakable things at his own team's player, Paul O'Neill, and also hinged on many obscene gestures from fans of both teams -- one fan went entirely off-kilter. And we saw the whole thing. With the admittedly more serious fall from the Texas Rangers fan on people's minds, we take you back a decade courtesy of the AP account (bold is ours):

A fan fell from the upper deck onto the screen behind home plate at Yankee Stadium during the third inning of Friday night's game against Boston and, able to walk, was taken to a hospital for treatment. Stephen Laurenzi, 24, of Yonkers, N.Y., was arrested on a charge of disorderly conduct, police Lt. John Roeder said, adding there was a chance a charge of reckless endangerment could be added.

Laurenzi was unconscious for a short time while sprawled on the netting and the game was delayed. He was taken to Lincoln Hospital for observation, but Roeder said the man seemed OK. Police said it was unclear whether the fan jumped or fell. "We have witnesses who say both," Roeder said.

Laurenzi, wearing a dark T-shirt with No. 21 and the last name of Yankees right fielder Paul O'Neill, seemed to fall head first on to the netting. Security escorted the man in handcuffs to the police office in the stadium's basement. "Loosen the cuffs, man, they're too tight," he told officers.

Laurenzi remained motionless on the screen for about five minutes while the game continued before suddenly sitting up and raising both arms high. Some fans cheered, apparently thinking he was unhurt, while others booed, believing it was a stunt. "He popped up in a drunken stupor," Yankees pitcher David Cone said.

Stadium security and medical personnel gathered beneath him, bringing a stretcher with them. He then crawled his way into the middle of the ballpark's three decks and was led out through a private suite. "It was scary because he didn't move," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "You thought he broke his neck or something." The game then resumed. A pack of cigarettes and a wallet remained on the screen after the fan crawled off.

We cannot confirm nor deny whether members of the Great Baseball Road Trip were among those booing. Amazingly, the GBRT returned to NYC for a Yankees/Twins series in 2005. We missed this incident by about two weeks.


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