Dodgers Battle Cub Fans Over Hat

Wednesday, May 17th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CHICAGO (AP) — All that for a baseball cap.

Several Dodgers got into a bench-clearing tussle with Wrigley Field fans Tuesday night after fans stole Chad Kreuter's hat and hit him in the ninth inning of Los Angeles' 6-5 victory over the Chicago Cubs.

When the fight was over, several fans had been hauled out, the game had been delayed almost 10 minutes, there was litter on the field and the Dodgers were in shock at one of the more bizarre events ever at Wrigley Field.

``If you wanted a hat that bad, be polite and ask for one. We'll give it to you. We've got a whole bunch of them,'' said Todd Hundley, whose game-winning three-run homer was all but forgotten in the mess.

``When you get physical, if you even touch a player, then it's on.''

Three fans were arrested in the incident and charged with disorderly conduct, police said. They were released from jail, and a June 19 court date was set. A fourth fan, who ran on the field earlier in the game, was charged with trespassing.

The Cubs announced this morning they will increase security around the bullpen area, which is right in front of fans and separated only by a chest-high brick wall. Three stadium security officials will sit in the bullpen, with one person keeping an eye on fans throughout the game.

There also will be off-duty police officers in the stands around the bullpen, said Mark McGuire, the Cubs' executive vice president for business operations.

``We think we have good coverage, and we are going to take the coverage up a little bit today,'' McGuire said. The Cubs said the security changes were permanent.

Commissioner Bud Selig's office has also gotten involved in the investigation. Frank Robinson, baseball's vice president of on-field operations, talked with Cubs manager Don Baylor and Dodgers manager Davey Johnson this morning, and McGuire said a representative from the commissioner's office was expected at Wrigley Field later today.

No wonder. Fights between teams are one thing. But a melee with fans?

``I was just shocked,'' Gary Sheffield said. ``I've never seen anything like that in my 12-year career.''

Kreuter, a Dodgers' catcher, was in the bullpen area, which is just over a small, chest-high wall from the fans, when pinch-hitter Julio Zuleta hit an RBI double to cut the Dodgers' lead to 6-5 with one out.

A fan grabbed Kreuter's cap, apparently hit him and then took off running. Kreuter gave chase, and a few of his teammates followed. The rest of the bullpen gathered along the first-base wall and Los Angeles' dugout emptied.

A few more players waded into the crowd, and several Dodgers were seen tussling with fans.

``If somebody pops one of my guys, that's not supposed to happen,'' Dodgers manager Davey Johnson said. ``A couple guys were pretty much intoxicated, big guys. Then the beer started coming down.''

Kreuter didn't want to talk about the fight, telling reporters to go talk to Hundley about his home run.

``The game was on the field,'' Kreuter said. ``Todd Hundley was the hero.''

It took security several minutes — and several tries — to finally restore order. Cubs manager Don Baylor and bench coach Rene Lachemann also came over to plead with fans to calm down.

``That was part of the problem. It kept going on and no one showed up. There were no uniformed personnel,'' Dodgers general manager Kevin Malone said. ``It looked like it was out of control and there weren't any control measures in place.''

But the Dodgers had no business going into the stands, Baylor said.

``I just know that when players go into the stands, you're taking big risks,'' Baylor said. ``The next thing you know, you have their general manager standing next to me on the field. He shouldn't have been there, either. You can't go into the stands. No matter what they throw.''

Jeff Shaw wasn't rattled by the delay, getting the last two outs for the victory and his ninth save. Alan Mills (1-1) pitched a perfect seventh.

Kevin Tapani (1-5) gave up six runs and nine hits in eight innings.

Wrigley Field fans are known for their spirited devotion to the Cubs. They cram the ballpark no matter how bad the Cubs are. They throw opponents' home run balls back on the field. They stand in the ninth inning. They give Sammy Sosa standing ovations for just about anything.

But sometimes, they get out of control. A game against the Colorado Rockies last May was delayed when fans, upset over an umpire's call, pelted the field with baseballs, bottles, coins and cups of beer. Colorado center fielder Darryl Hamilton said one fan threw a Jack Daniels bottle onto the field.

Seventy-five people were ejected in that one, but there were no arrests. The Cubs restricted beer sales and added security after the incident.

``This is my home town. I've been here hundreds of times,'' said Hundley, whose father, Randy, played for the Cubs. ``I'm really disappointed in my hometown fans.''

But Malone said he's not holding all Cubs fans responsible. And he doesn't think the bullpen needs to be moved.

``This is a great ball park. Wrigley is a special place ... I wouldn't change anything,'' Malone said. ``Just because there are a few intoxicated fans, we shouldn't spoil it for all Cubs fans.''

Malone also said he's not worried about his team's safety the rest of the three-game series.

``Unless those guys come back and drink some more.''

Notes: Hundley has now homered in four straight games and in seven of his last eight starts. ... Ricky Gutierrez hit his sixth homer of the season, a new career high. ... Henry Rodriguez is day-to-day after fouling a pitch off his right knee.