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When fans attack: Players, security wary of those who go too far

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Guest oldschooler
[quote][size=5][b]When fans attack: Players, security wary of those who go too far [/b][/size]

By Scott Venci
svenci@greenbaypressgazette.com

Berley Visgar didn't know what he was doing. He hadn't done anything like it before, and nothing like it since.


But for one evening on Sept. 24, 1999, the baseball fan from South Beloit, Ill., did something that strikes fear into professional athletes and the people assigned to protect them.


Visgar was seated in the bleachers at County Stadium in Milwaukee, watching a game between the Brewers and the Houston Astros.


The lifelong Mets fan was there because his mother had won tickets in a radio contest and couldn't use them.


With no rooting interest, it was clear he planned on having some fun. It started with him pounding vodka and beer before the game, and continued with three or four more beers during it.


As the night wore on, Visgar started telling people sitting around him that he would run onto the field naked or jump on a player's back if his fellow fans would pay the fine.


A friend warned Visgar that if he pulled the stunt, he likely would get hurt, but it didn't help that other fans were encouraging him.


In Visgar's impaired mind, everything seemed so easy. He looked around the stadium, and was surprised by the easy access to the field. He thought to himself that if somebody analyzed the situation and formed a plan, he could get onto the field and do what he wished.


The alcohol and encouragement proved to be a volatile mix. After enough talk — and after more encouragement — Visgar decided the time was right.


It was the bottom of the sixth inning when he jumped 8 feet down from the outfield wall and raced 20 feet over to right field, where Astros outfielder Bill Spiers stood.


Spiers, who had played for the Brewers from 1989 to 1994, was a sturdy and strong man, standing 6-foot-2 and weighing 190 pounds.


He was an infielder by trade but was in the outfield due to a rash of injuries.


Everything that happened next feels like yesterday for Spiers.


He was watching Astros pitcher Mike Hampton throw his final warmup toss, when someone jumped piggyback-style on him.


Spiers thought it was a former Brewers teammate from in the bullpen having fun while running to the clubhouse.


Until he looked down and saw blue jeans instead of a uniform.


"When I saw blue jeans, I knew it wasn't a player," Spiers said. "My first thought was, 'Oh, no. I've got to get this guy off me.'"


As big as Spiers was, Visgar was bigger. They tangled as a grounds-crew member, Hampton and Astros teammate Craig Biggio raced to help Spiers.


"He was about my height, but weighed 235, 240 pounds," Spiers said. "I remember my legs wobbling holding him up.


"He locked on to me, and it was hard to get him off. I finally bent down far enough to where he came off, and we kind of wrestled and I got him on the ground."


Spiers sustained whiplash-like injuries during the fray and lost a contact lens, but otherwise was fine. He stayed in the game, but came out before his next at-bat because he couldn't move his neck.


Until that night, Spiers never had worried about his safety on the field, although he did think something could happen. After all, playing in front of 40,000 people in a spacious venue can leave you feeling as vulnerable as a Roger Clemens fastball coming toward your head.


"You think the worst," Spiers said. "Like somebody in another building — and I hate to even say it — but a sniper or something. That did kind of cross my mind before. But as far as being attacked by a fan, I never really thought about it."


Visgar served 90 days in jail and was fined $1,000.


He was 23. Eight years later, Visgar regrets everything about that night.


"I've never had a chance to apologize to him," said Visgar, who will turn 31 in August and lives in Beloit. "It's something that is going to stick with me forever. I will always be known as that guy. It's just one of those things. I was intoxicated at the time, I was a little young, a little immature. Now I'm older, wiser, and I look back and reflect, and realize how dumb it was. It was probably the single most dumb thing I've done in my life."


Asked why he did it, Visgar has no answer.


"I don't know," he said. "It was just one of those things that came up. I didn't go there with that intention, by no means."


[b]Fear of the unknown[/b]

Some people shrug and say fans running on the field mostly are harmless. Morganna the Kissing Bandit became famous for it.


[b]Many get attention for their actions — video of Bengals fan Greg Gall racing on the field in Cincinnati and stealing the football from Packers quarterback Brett Favre during the final minute of a game on Oct. 30, 2005, can be seen on YouTube — although it's not as fun for the athletes, who don't know what's in the mind of a stranger approaching them. [/b]


"I think it's always in the back of our mind," said Jerry Parins, the senior security adviser for the Packers. "Things happen so quickly."


[b]Like the Gall incident.


Parins was on the Packers' sideline at Paul Brown Stadium along with director of security Doug Collins and several off-duty police officers.


Toward the end of the game, Gall came over to a rail not far from the Packers' bench and jumped toward a cart parked on the base of the wall. He landed on the cart and bolted past a police officer standing nearby.


He was 20 yards onto the field when Parins noticed him. Gall was able to snatch the football from a surprised Favre after the snap and run from security before being subdued.


"I was embarrassed by that," Parins said. "I guess we learned something there. That kind of behavior does scare you, because we don't ever know what the intention or the thinking is of that individual.


"When it does happen, the system has to come down very hard and direct on the individual. Ejecting him, arresting him and really put some discipline into the issue."


Gall didn't seem as energetic this week when asked about the incident.


"I'm probably not interested in this interview," he said from his Mount Washington, Ohio, residence. [/b]


When it comes to Favre and other high-profile players, awareness tends to be heightened.


Take a normal road game during the season. Where you find Favre, you'll find security with him. When he gets off the plane, when he arrives at the hotel, when he goes to the game and when the team departs for home, Favre is being watched.


The team has had to deal with threats to players via mail, with some being racist in tone and others threatening harm.


One incident involved coach Mike Holmgren during his time in Green Bay.


"We had somebody working in the Chicago area that was doing some threats against the coach," Parins said. "We were concerned every time that we went to Chicago. Nothing ever happened, but you don't know."


[b]On the lookout[/b]

Security will be a hot topic as Barry Bonds continues his pursuit of Hank Aaron's home run record.


Bonds, like Aaron years ago, has received death threats over the past few months. During spring training, he admitted to feeling "gun-shy" about what could happen as he got closer to the record.


After hitting his record-breaking 715th home run on April 8, 1974, two high-school seniors ran onto the field and jogged next to Aaron as he rounded second base. Luckily for Aaron, they were there just to join in the celebration.


With Bonds closing in on Aaron's record, what happens if somebody decides to do more than trot alongside him?


Late last month, a fan hopped a fence at AT&T Park in San Francisco during the top of the seventh inning. He approached Bonds in left field and shook the player's hand, before Bonds led him off to security.


"Sometimes, I say we are fortunate that that hasn't happened," Parins said of an athlete being killed. "With the threats on the president, with the threats on the pope and different people, do I know what the thinking is of that individual?


"When you have that unknown person that is not well and he wants to hurt … boy, I don't know if sometimes you can stop it."


[b]The aftermath[/b]

Spiers played two more seasons with the Astros before playing his final game on April 8, 2001.


"I never worried about it again," he said of the possibility of another incident. "Now, if it would have been a different scenario as far as somebody had a weapon (the first time), I'm sure I would have. He very easily could have had a knife and I could have been stabbed, because I didn't see him coming.


"He was drunk and just being an idiot. I didn't think about it again."


When told Visgar wanted to apologize, Spiers said he holds no animosity toward the stranger who got a bit too close eight years ago.


But he knows things have changed since that time.


"I mean, look at 9-11," Spiers said. "The whole world is different. You have to be a little more cautious than you had to be 10 years ago.


"That's just common sense."


Common sense, of course, in situations that apparently have little.[/quote]





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Guest oldschooler
[quote name='Bengals1181' post='511264' date='Jul 16 2007, 09:04 AM']is there video of the Spiers incident?[/quote]



I did a quick search and didn`t find anything.
Maybe someone else can find it, if there is one.
It happened before the bottom of the 6th inning actually started . . .


There was a photo with the article though . . .

[img]http://img75.imageshack.us/img75/4066/spiersxo7.jpg[/img]

Bill Spiers (28) wrestles with a fan in right field during the Milwaukee Brewers' Sept. 24, 1999, game against the Houston Astros in Milwaukee. At right is Spiers' teammate, Houston's Craig Biggio. Morry Gash/AP

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Guest CincyInDC
[quote name='oldschooler' post='511277' date='Jul 16 2007, 10:49 AM']I did a quick search and didn`t find anything.
Maybe someone else can find it, if there is one.
It happened before the bottom of the 6th inning actually started . . .


There was a photo with the article though . . .

[img]http://img75.imageshack.us/img75/4066/spiersxo7.jpg[/img]

Bill Spiers (28) wrestles with a fan in right field during the Milwaukee Brewers' Sept. 24, 1999, game against the Houston Astros in Milwaukee. At right is Spiers' teammate, Houston's Craig Biggio. Morry Gash/AP[/quote]

That pussy said he'd get naked and jump on the dude's back. What a wimp.

:ninja:

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OK..... I like Brett Favre, and the Packers are my #2 team that I like to root for, unless of course they're playing the Bengals... then its war, but that is still one of the greatest moments I've ever witnessed watching a game :lol:

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[quote name='oldschooler' post='511277' date='Jul 16 2007, 10:49 AM'][img]http://img75.imageshack.us/img75/4066/spiersxo7.jpg[/img]

Bill Spiers (28) wrestles with a fan in right field during the Milwaukee Brewers' Sept. 24, 1999, game against the Houston Astros in Milwaukee. [b]At right[/b] is Spiers' teammate, Houston's Craig Biggio. Morry Gash/AP[/quote]


Did the caption really say "at right"?....when Biggio is clearly "at left". :huh:

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if it werent for the isnane revenues they should ban alcohol from the stadium completely. all stadiums, its pointless and does nothing but cause harm, ...

they probably average 2 beers per ticket sold, i'd gladly pay an extra $14 per game to have no alcohol, people are idiots, they shouldnt be allowed outside let alone in public.




hell one year, i show up at my seats and there is some crazy old drunk dude standing there.... :ninja:

so we made him a moderator.



but seriously, alcohol is pretty pointless.

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[quote name='GoBengals' post='511455' date='Jul 16 2007, 04:19 PM']if it werent for the isnane revenues they should ban alcohol from the stadium completely. all stadiums, its pointless and does nothing but cause harm, ...

they probably average 2 beers per ticket sold, i'd gladly pay an extra $14 per game to have no alcohol, people are idiots, they shouldnt be allowed outside let alone in public.
hell one year, i show up at my seats and there is some crazy old drunk dude standing there.... :ninja:

so we made him a moderator.
but seriously, alcohol is pretty pointless.[/quote]
It has it's place....ok, I got nothing. A glass of wine is really tasty with food...ok, still nothing...
I'm an alcoholic?
Yes.
They should just have a "no kids" section and only serve beer there and let them go at it...with extra security....

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[quote name='Bunghole' post='511457' date='Jul 16 2007, 06:24 PM']It has it's place....ok, I got nothing. A glass of wine is really tasty with food...ok, still nothing...
I'm an alcoholic?
Yes.
They should just have a "no kids" section and only serve beer there and let them go at it...with extra security....[/quote]


i think thats the south endzone...

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[quote name='GoBengals' post='511458' date='Jul 16 2007, 06:27 PM']i think thats the south endzone...[/quote]
I now understand why I hated sitting in my uncle's seats <_<

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Guest BengalBacker
[quote name='GoBengals' post='511455' date='Jul 16 2007, 06:19 PM']if it werent for the isnane revenues they should ban alcohol from the stadium completely. all stadiums, its pointless and does nothing but cause harm, ...

they probably average 2 beers per ticket sold, i'd gladly pay an extra $14 per game to have no alcohol, people are idiots, they shouldnt be allowed outside let alone in public.
hell one year, i show up at my seats and there is some crazy old drunk dude standing there.... :ninja:

so we made him a moderator.
but seriously, alcohol is pretty pointless.[/quote]


:whistle:


I've been shit-faced drunk twice in about the last 20 years, and both times were the only two times I've seen you. I drink two or three beers most nights after work, but it's very rare for me to drink more than four or five. I'll never do that at another game. Or anywhere for that matter. I think BJ still has me beat though. ^_^

I actually think I agree with you though. The bad that comes with beer sales at sporting events far outweighs any possible good. People can still drink at their tailgates, but usually that "one too many" is bought inside the stadium. Other than the tradition and the revenue, there's really no good argument for it.

HOWEVER !!!!!!
Give me a god damn place where I can go smoke a fuckin' cigarette at halftime. Rope me off like a fuckin' monkey if it makes you feel any better, but don't give me that second hand smoke bullshit in an outdoor stadium. :angry2:

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[quote name='BengalBacker' post='511581' date='Jul 17 2007, 04:12 PM']:whistle: HOWEVER !!!!!!
Give me a god damn place where I can go smoke a fuckin' cigarette at halftime. Rope me off like a fuckin' monkey if it makes you feel any better, but don't give me that second hand smoke bullshit in an outdoor stadium. :angry2:[/quote]

You're going to start a holy war with this one.
MULLY
but I'm on your side

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[quote name='GoBengals' post='511455' date='Jul 16 2007, 06:19 PM']if it werent for the isnane revenues they should ban alcohol from the stadium completely. all stadiums, its pointless and does nothing but cause harm, ...

they probably average 2 beers per ticket sold, i'd gladly pay an extra $14 per game to have no alcohol, people are idiots, they shouldnt be allowed outside let alone in public.
hell one year, i show up at my seats and there is some crazy old drunk dude standing there.... :ninja:

[b]so we made him a moderator.[/b]
but seriously, alcohol is pretty pointless.[/quote]

lol....that's funny shit right there....


Where do I put in my application to be moderator? :1062:


































:ninja:

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[quote name='BengalBacker' post='511581' date='Jul 17 2007, 03:12 AM']HOWEVER !!!!!!
Give me a god damn place where I can go smoke a fuckin' cigarette at halftime. Rope me off like a fuckin' monkey if it makes you feel any better, but don't give me that second hand smoke bullshit in an outdoor stadium. :angry2:[/quote]

Word.

I dont see any stories up here about a crazed fan smoking 7 or 8 cigarettes and running onto the field.

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[quote name='ShaGs_McNasty' post='511849' date='Jul 18 2007, 01:43 AM']Word.

I dont see any stories up here about a crazed fan smoking 7 or 8 cigarettes and running onto the field.[/quote]


You would if they were Reggie McNeal's cigarettes :wacko:

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[quote name='BengalBacker' post='511581' date='Jul 17 2007, 03:12 AM']:whistle:
I've been shit-faced drunk twice in about the last 20 years, and both times were the only two times I've seen you. I drink two or three beers most nights after work, but it's very rare for me to drink more than four or five. I'll never do that at another game. Or anywhere for that matter. I think BJ still has me beat though. ^_^

I actually think I agree with you though. The bad that comes with beer sales at sporting events far outweighs any possible good. People can still drink at their tailgates, but usually that "one too many" is bought inside the stadium. Other than the tradition and the revenue, there's really no good argument for it.

HOWEVER !!!!!!
Give me a god damn place where I can go smoke a fuckin' cigarette at halftime. Rope me off like a fuckin' monkey if it makes you feel any better, but don't give me that second hand smoke bullshit in an outdoor stadium. :angry2:[/quote]


im pretty much completely against smoking for any reason, however i would gladly give a monkey pen for smoker sto round into and puff away... no one seems to care standing by the gates, after all, 1 foot on the other side and its fair game, so as long as it isnt cuntbags walking through a crowd chain smoking i could care less, im a fat guy, all that yelling and walking makes my lungs hate me already.. so smoke on top of that is a bitch, especially with asthma, but is certain designated places.. im for it... with the "ban" people just do it anyway... with a "place" people would do it in that place...

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When you view this thread from the forum index, it says it was started by some bigbaddblackandgold person :huh:

I wonder why that is ?

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[quote name='oldschooler' post='512591' date='Jul 19 2007, 11:33 AM']When you view this thread from the forum index, it says it was started by some bigbaddblackandgold person :huh:

I wonder why that is ?[/quote]


:lol:

Now that is funny.

Wonder if someone is messing with the users table to try to get things restored?

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