Anti-Castro activist who ran onto field demands apology

Cuban umpire blamed for body slam, punches

May 06, 1999|By Joe Mathews | Joe Mathews,SUN STAFF

Diego Tintorero rested at home in Miami yesterday, his arm cut and his back aching from one of the most bizarre international incidents in Baltimore history.

During Monday night's Oriole-Cuba game, Tintorero, a 42-year-old construction worker and anti-Fidel Castro activist, ran onto the field holding a "Human Rights for Cuba" and "Freedom-Strike Out Against Castro" sign with a representation of the Cuban flag.

In the outfield, he was body-slammed and repeatedly punched by the Cuban second base umpire, Cesar Valdez. Oriole left fielder B. J. Surhoff had to intervene to separate the two.

Tintorero was detained and charged with trespassing.

"I had planned to come to the game and run on the field because I wanted to let Peter Angelos know how I felt about the game," Tintorero said yesterday. "I expected to be arrested, but not beaten up."

In a phone interview, Tintorero demanded an apology from the Cuban government and questioned why Baltimore police had not pressed charges against the umpire. But yesterday, neither the apology nor charges were imminent.

Valdez returned to Cuba a hero, lauded by Fidel Castro. And while noting that Tintorero still has a right to bring charges through a court commissioner, Baltimore police spokesman Rob Weinhold replied: "Had Mr. Tintorero stayed in his seat where he belonged, he wouldn't have to worry about criminal charges."

A native of Camaguey, Cuba, Tintorero says he was put in jail by the Castro government when he refused to fight in Angola. In 1980, Tintorero left in the Mariel boat lift, when thousands of Cubans left for the United States.

He served with Alpha 66, paramilitary exiles who have tried to infiltrate the Cuban military. But he says he quit in 1996, after reading about Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi. "I now believe in peace, not war."

In the fourth inning, his 13-year-old son, Diego, ran onto the field and was arrested, along with two Florida men. Tintorero appeared an inning later.

Pub Date: 5/06/99

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