Phils fan hit by thrown ball speaks

Posted: August 28, 2010

The fan at Citizens Bank Park who was hit in the head by a baseball that led to the suspension of Washington centerfielder Nyjer Morgan this week said he was shocked when it happened.

He said he was equally surprised to learn about Major League Baseball's seven-game suspension of Morgan after officials determined the outfielder intentionally had thrown the ball into the bleachers.

The 37-year-old man from the Lansdale area said he wished to remain anonymous because he was not seeking publicity from the incident.

"I'm actually already really tired of the whole thing and would prefer to just walk away," the fan said. "People just keep sending me articles with all kinds of different conflicting information. I'm really not looking for anything at all."

The fan said he also was not looking when Morgan made the alleged throw after completing his warm-up tosses during the middle of the eighth inning of Washington's 8-1 win over the Phillies on Aug. 21.

"I still have a slight lump and some mild pain," he said. "I got hit in the left temple. . . . My head was turned, watching the outfield screen. I never saw it coming. . . . There was no play going on, and it was between innings, so it's not something I really expected. I had no idea what had happened and was pretty dazed afterward."

In addition to the seven-game suspension, Morgan was fined an undisclosed amount. He immediately appealed the suspension and has continued to play for the Nationals.

A baseball source said Morgan was suspended based on numerous complaints from fans attending the game and reports from security. The Phillies said no criminal charges were filed against Morgan.

The fan said he was seated nine rows behind the wall in left-center field, and he confirmed that several fans had been harassing Morgan.

"Absolutely," the fan said. "There were one or two guys in Section 148 that were riding him pretty hard for a couple of innings. Mostly they seemed to be heckling him about the way he wore his uniform. He was the only player on the field who was wearing his [uniform] old-style with the full stockings.  They were screaming at him about looking like a jockey. . . . Stuff like that.  There were some inferences that suggested his pose was a little less than masculine. I didn't hear any of what he said back to the heckler, and I started to tune the whole thing out after a while."

The fan said an usher spoke to the hecklers and told them to "tone it down."

After being hit in the head, the fan said others in his section were upset.

"I was told by several people that the throw appeared to be intentional," he said. "When I got hit in the side of the head, several people jumped up and screamed at Mr. Morgan. When he appeared to laugh it off, several more people in the section started a [profane] chant at which point [Morgan] turned around.

"At the end of the game, when he made the third-out catch, he motioned up into the stands where the heckler was as if he was going to toss the ball. At that point, no less than a dozen people came over and expressed their view that [the ball-throwing incident] was intentional and that I was taking it way too calmly."

The fan said an usher in his section immediately responded after he was hit.

"He checked me out a couple of times and was great," the fan said.

The fan said he has not heard from the Nationals, Morgan, or Major League Baseball since the incident, but he bears no animosity toward the Washington centerfielder. A message left with the Nationals was not returned.

"I am not pressing any charges or filing suit against Mr. Morgan or the Nationals organization, nor do I harbor any animosity toward him," the fan said. "I was very surprised by the suspension. Obviously, MLB is taking it very seriously. I wish him luck with the appeal."

The only thing that bothered the fan is that misinformation has surfaced since Morgan's suspension was announced.

"I just got an e-mail from a friend of a friend at WIP stating that some 'witness' called in and claimed that I was a drunk-and-disorderly heckler and sensationalized the whole scene. All news to me, my wife, and brother-in-law, who were just sitting there quietly. It's just getting crazy, and I'm not even remotely interested in the attention."

The fan is, however, interested in getting the Phillies back to the playoffs.

"I have been away on business for most of the week," he said. "My trip took me through Atlanta, where I did call on whatever small amount of baseball mojo this incident has granted me to work a Philly hex on the Braves. You have to find a way to turn incidents like this into a positive."


Contact staff writer Bob Brookover at 215-854-2577 or bbrookover@phillynews.com.

|
|
|
|
|