Record 19 Dodgers suspended by MLB

Punishment levied for fighting with fans

National League


NEW YORK - In the latest sign that Major League Baseball is cracking down on unruly behavior by players, the commissioner's office on yesterday fined and suspended 19 members of the Los Angeles Dodgers for leaping into the stands and brawling with fans at Chicago's Wrigley Field last week.

The players union denounced the suspensions as "intolerable," and the Dodgers said suspensions would be appealed.

Rich Levin, a spokesman for commissioner Bud Selig, said the 19 suspensions are believed to be the most in history stemming from a single incident.

Frank Robinson, baseball's new vice president for on-field operations, said he was determined to curb violence on the field.

"What I'm trying to do with these penalties is say 'We can't stop you from doing these things but if you do them you have to understand you will pay the consequences,'" he said in an interview.

On April 22, Robinson suspended 16 members of the Detroit Tigers and the Chicago White Sox for a total of 82 games after the teams started fighting when a batter was hit by a pitch.

The fight at Wrigley, however, was particularly disturbing, Robinson said, because players went into the stands.

The Wrigley brawl began when a fan who was evidently drunk reached over the chest-high infield wall near the bullpen, hit Chad Kreuter, a catcher, in the back of the head and then snatched his cap. Kreuter had been sitting with the pitchers with his back to the fans along the first-base wall. Kreuter and several teammates chased the fan and ended up trading punches with several fans, while the rest of the team stood watching. It took stadium security officers nine minutes to restore order.

Kreuter was suspended for eight games, as were coaches Glenn Hoffman, Rick Dempsey and John Shelby. Fifteen other players received suspensions for between three and five games. All nineteen were fined as well, but baseball officials declined to say how much.

"The penalties are just intolerable," said Gene Orza, an official with the players union. "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 or general manager who wouldn't have fired them."

In a statement, the Dodgers said: "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. We have informed the commissioner's office that we disagree with the extent of the severity and have requested an appeal."

Robinson said suspensions would be staggered, with no more than three players banned for a single game.

Levin, the Major League Baseball spokesman, said the players would continue to play until their appeals are heard by Paul Beeston, baseball's president and chief operating officer. It remained unclear how long that process would take, but Robinson said he hoped to finish it within two weeks.

Nine of the players suspended were pitchers. Carlos Perez and Mike Fetters will be forced to sit out four games, while Terry Adams, Darren Dreifort, Eric Gagne, Onan Masaoka, Alan Mills, Antonio Osuna and Chan Ho Park will be benched for three.

Officials also suspended four outfielders - F.P. Santangelo, Gary Sheffield, Geronimo Berroa and Shawn Green - as well as first baseman Eric Karros and catcher Todd Hundley.

Four fans involved in the fight were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.

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