Major League Baseball Hands Down Largest Number of Suspensions in Baseball History

Wednesday, May 24th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) — Sixteen players for the Los Angeles Dodgers and three coaches were suspended from three to eight games Wednesday for going into the stands during a fight with fans at Wrigley Field on May 16.

The penalties are believed to be the most ever in baseball from one brawl.

Catcher Chad Kreuter, who was hit in the head by a fan grabbing his cap, was suspended for eight games along with coaches Rick Dempsey, John Shelby and Glenn Hoffman. Fifteen other players were given suspensions of three to five games.

The suspensions totaled 60 games for players and 24 games for coaches; all 19 individuals also were fined.

The penalties were issued by Frank Robinson, the new vice president of on-field operations, and served as another example of baseball's crackdown on unruly conduct.

On April 27, Robinson suspended 16 members of the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox for a total of 82 games. Until now, that was thought to be the harshest penalty ever for a brawl.

``The players should understand if they do something it's going to be dealt with. It won't be a little slap on the wrist or a fine,'' Robinson said. ``We want to stop these things now. We want to stop the brawling on the field and the players from going into the stands any time they feel like it.''

Rich Levin, the spokesman for commissioner Bud Selig, said the 19 suspensions were the most ever in the sport stemming from one brawl.

``Although we fully accept and support the notion that fans belong in the stands and players belong on the field, we are extremely shocked and concerned about the severity of the punishments,'' the Dodgers said. ``We have informed the commissioner's office that we disagree with the extent of that severity and have requested an appeal.''

The players' association immediately appealed the penalties, meaning they can't begin until after a hearing before Paul Beeston, baseball's chief operating officer. Robinson said the suspensions would be staggered, with no more than three players banned at a single time.

``The penalties are just intolerable,'' said Gene Orza, the union's No. 2 official. ``What would have happened to these players if they didn't do anything? What would their reputations within the sport have been? I don't know a manager of general manager who wouldn't have fired them.''

Pitcher Carlos Perez, outfielder F.P. Santangelo and outfielder Gary Sheffield were suspended for five games each, and pitcher Mike Fetters was given a four-game suspension.

Suspended for three games were pitchers Terry Adams, Darren Dreifort, Eric Gagne, Onan Masaoka, Alan Mills, Antonio Osuna and Chan Ho Park; catcher Todd Hundley; first baseman Eric Karros; and outfielders Geronimo Berroa and Shawn Green.

The fight began when a fan near the Dodgers' bullpen reached over and hit Kreuter. It took 9 minutes to restore order.

Three fans were arrested, charged with disorderly conduct, and released. A court date was set for June 19.

Orza said baseball's logic was askew and that baseball should have backed the players' response.

``If this rule applied in the military, we'd have court martials,'' he said. ``Players are human beings. When you hit someone, they hit you back. ... I can assure you if Frank Robinson saw someone assault a family member, he'd leave the field and he'd be right to do so.''
Said Robinson:

``A family member wasn't assaulted.''