When Fans Detach from the Herd

Fans running on the field is usually memorable for different reasons. (via Andrew Malone)

Fans running on the field is usually memorable for different reasons. (via Andrew Malone)

Fans swarming the field is a tradition as old as baseball. Sometimes, it’s joyous and sometimes it takes a turn for the dangerous. But one thing is certain, when fans become part of the game, it’s almost always memorable.

There’s a big difference between the whole crowd taking over the field and a lone fan making a dash for it. Many fans who have made a solo attempt at running across the diamond have the same advice for people considering the act: don’t do it. A man known as Joe set up the website Running the Field to tell his story of jumping onto the playing surface at the Rogers Centre on May 5, 2013. “DO NOT RUN THE FIELD,” he cautions. “IT IS NOT WORTH IT.”

Craig Coakley, also know as the Citi Field Streaker, has similar advice. On May 12, 2009, he ran mostly-naked (a lawyer advised him pre-run not to go completely nude due to additional charges) across the diamond at the home of his beloved Mets. The aftermath involved an arrest and court appearance, an estimated $20,000 in fines and lost work, and the worst consequence of all for someone who loves the Mets as much as he does: he is banned from Citi Field for life. Some stadiums, like Coors Field, even have holding cells for these offenders deep inside the stadium.

And then there’s Adam McNally, self-described “prankster” who streaked from the first base line to center field of the Blue Jays’ Skydome during a game against the Orioles on Aug. 14, 2004. “I don’t regret streaking the Dome at all, and it was definitely worth it,” he told The Hardball Times via email. However, he says he wouldn’t do it again, “simply because I don’t think I could top my first streak.” Also on McNally’s side is the fact that the Skydome was bought out by Ted Rogers about a month after his court date (during which his charges for public mischief and indecent exposure were dropped, which was fortunate because if convicted of the latter, he says he would have become a registered sex offender). So, while he was barred from the Skydome for life, no one ever said anything about the Rogers Center. He even wrote a song called “Bottom of the 6th” about his streaking experience:

And on that note, here are some of the most memorable times fans decided to get in on the game.

Oct. 10, 1924: The Washington Senators win the World Series

In a 12-inning Game Seven, the Washington Senators defeated the New York Giants to win the World Series. In 2014, the only known film footage of the game was discovered. What it revealed was that, even dressed in their suits, baseball fans would swarm the field after their team won the big game.

Sept. 9, 1969: The black cat and the curse of the Cubs

The 1969 Cubs were a force to be reckoned with. The team had been in first place for most of the season. Then came September, and they began to struggle. On Sept. 9, a fan tossed a black kitten onto the field and it headed straight for the Cubs dugout, as Ferguson Jenkins — who was pitching for the Cubs that day — remembers. The rest, as they say, is history. The Cubs failed to make the playoffs that season and the curse remained intact until last year when they finally broke it.

April 8, 1974: Fans round the bases with Hank Aaron after he hits record breaking homer No. 715

Something that never could have happened today: after Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s home run record, two fans in bell bottoms and shaggy hair joined him on the basepath, patting him on the shoulder. One of the teens, Craig Sager, noted that he “[would have been] shot” if he had tried anything of the sort in a current day stadium.

June 4, 1974: Ten Cent Beer Night ends the only way Ten Cent Beer Night can

A Hardball Times Update
Goodbye for now.

In Cleveland, the ten cent beer night promotion went terribly wrong (or maybe it was right?) when fans emptied onto the field during the midst of the Cleveland team’s ninth inning comeback against the Rangers. Cleveland tied the game and that’s when the problems started. There were streakers, there were fireworks, there were Rangers players arming themselves with bats against the mob, there were injured umps, there were literal stolen bases. Cleveland ended up having to forfeit the game.

Oct. 14, 1976: Chris Chambliss’ walk-off home run to win ALCS

In the bottom of the ninth, Chambliss hit the first pitch out of the park to win the pennant for the Yanks and the stands immediately emptied out. A fan tripped Chambliss as he rounded second and another fan tried to steal his helmet off his head. He was mobbed by the time he got to third. He ran into the dugout to seek cover and had to be escorted back onto the field by two policemen in order to touch home plate. “Home plate was already stolen, so it was a bare ground there but I put my foot on it and we went back,” Chambliss recalled later.

Oct. 18, 1977: Reggie Jackson uses his helmet as a weapon after World Series win

After a game in which Reggie Jackson hit three home runs — back to back to back — the fans swarmed the field to celebrate the Yankees World Series win. Jackson took off his helmet and used it as a shield/battering ram to get through the rowdy crowd. Also on the field that day was a 10-year-old Artie Lange.

July 12, 1979: Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park

You had to know this one was coming. Disco Demolition night at Comiskey Park was a disaster — one tinged with an underlying element of racial hostility that is often overlooked when the event is recalled. A rock station and the Chicago White Sox teamed up to blow up disco records in the outfield between double header games against the Detroit Tigers. Nearly 60,000 people showed up. The result was a hole in the playing field, a riot of epic proportions, and the forfeiting of the second game by the White Sox.

1969-1999: Morganna The Kissing Bandit

It all started in 1969 when, on a bet, Morganna ran out onto the Reds’ field and planted a kiss on Pete Rose (an apt target for a bet, it would turn out). In 1977, after she laid one on George Brett during a Royals game, he went and found her at the strip club she was working at in town and jumped on the stage to get even. Morganna was arrested an estimated 19 times. According to Sports Illustrated, in 1985, after the kisses she planted on Astros pitcher Nolan Ryan (who got down on one knee and welcomed her with open arms) and shortstop Dickie Thon, “she successfully used a ‘gravity defense’ in court,” claiming that “physics caused her to fall over an Astrodome fence and onto the playing surface. ‘Who’s gonna argue,’ she asked, ‘with Isaac Newton?’” It ended suddenly 30 years later, which she refused to talk about until 2014. She told E:60 that she was tired and just wanted to live a normal life.

Oct. 26, 1986: The parachuting fan

During the top of the first inning of Game Six of the 1986 World Series at Shea Stadium between the Mets and the Red Sox, a fan parachuted onto the field. Behind him, a flag with the words “Go Mets” waved in the breeze, interrupting Bill Buckner’s at-bat. “That’s about the only way to beat the traffic in this town,” the commentators joked.

Sept. 18, 1993: The overzealous Yankees fans who saved the game

There were two outs in the bottom of the ninth at a game between the Yankees and Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. The Red Sox were up 3-0. After being hit by a pitch, Mike Gallego walked to first. Pinch hitter Mike Stanley would have flied out to left field, but time was called while the ball was in the air. It turned out that there was an interloper on the field in the form of a teenaged fan near third base. After play resumed, Stanley singled, then Wade Boggs singled to score Gallego, Dion James walked to load the bases for Don Mattingly, who singled in two runs, completing the rally.

April 5, 2002: Fan gives Jeter her number on Opening Day

Makeup artist Kristielee Wilcox jumped over the fence and onto the field during the Yankees home opener in 2002. Her goal? To hand Derek Jeter a slip of paper with her number on it, which she did. “I wasn’t planning on doing it at all. If I was planning on it I would have probably worn something else,” she said later. “I had like two layers of clothes on and it was freezing out that day. I had platform shoes on. I couldn’t run in them so I had to run in my socks.” She was later arrested at her job at Bergdorf Goodman when she failed to appear in court on her criminal trespassing charges. Jeter never called.

Sept. 19, 2002: A father and son beat up the Royals’ first base coach in Chicago

One of the most infamous and bizarre fan-on-the-field incidents occurred at a game between the White Sox and the Royals in Chicago. A father and his teenaged son, William Ligues Jr. and III, jumped onto the field and attacked Royals first base coach Tom Gamboa. According to the New York Times, “The Royals’ dugout cleared and their bullpen rushed in from right field. Several players jumped on the fans and punches were exchanged.” The elder Ligue said Gamboa had provoked the attack, which was proven untrue. Gamboa suffered permanent hearing loss as a result of the attack.

May 3, 2010: Teenaged Phillies fan tasered

Steve Consalvi, a 17-year-old,called his father from the stands of a Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park to tell him he planned to run out onto the field. His father warned him not to do it, but Consalvi went ahead anyway, stepping onto the outfield during the eighth inning and running in circles. His joy lasted just a minute or so before a police officer tasered him and he dropped to the ground. Police backed the officers’ actions but other people, including the ACLU, said it was excessive use of force. Consalvi received a sentence of probation and community service for his offense.

July 6, 2013: Fan runs onto the field during All-Star Game after being encouraged by Twitter users

What makes this incident memorable is not so much the act itself, but that the entire lead up to the decision to run out onto the field during the 2013 All-Star Game was documented on Dylan Masone’s Twitter timeline. Masone tweeted that if he got 1,000 retweets, he’d run onto the field. Sadly for Dylan, he received more than the requisite 1,000 and he decided to make a break for it. The reactions of his mother and his girlfriend were also documented on Twitter, making it truly a modern-day event.

April 21, 2016: Cubs fan joins the on-field celebration after Arrieta’s no-no

At the beginning of the 2016 season, when Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta was on his streak of being one of the hottest pitchers to ever, he threw a no-hitter at Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park. Dylan Cressy decided to congratulate Arrieta by joining the on-field celebration. Cressy was on the field so quickly that he made it to the mound before second baseman Ben Zobrist and right fielder Jason Heyward. “I made my way toward Arrieta and I said ‘You’re the man, Jake,’” Cressy told FOX Sports. “And he mouthed ‘Thanks, man.’… That was my last memory before I got my arm shoved behind my back and cuffed.” Unlike many other fans who have run on the field, Cressy said it was totally worth the night in jail and trespassing charges.

Sept. 30, 2016: Giants’ Angel Pagan takes down fan in the outfield

When a fan rushed the field at AT&T Park, outfielder Angel Pagan didn’t wait for security to get there; he took matters into his own hands and tackled the man himself. The fan was part of a group called Direct Action Everywhere, and carried 10 flowers — “each one representing one billion animals that were tortured and murdered in the United States.” Angel Pagan told reporters after the game, “He came, I executed.” Other members of the group protested the sale of Dodger dogs during a Rockies-Dodgers game on July 3. News for the activists: if no one understands what your action is in support of, it’s not a very effective direct action.

References & Resources

Britni de la Cretaz is a freelance writer, whose work has been featured in The Atlantic, Rolling Stone, espnW, and VICE Sports, among others. She is a recovered alcoholic, and baseball enthusiast living in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @britnidlc.
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7 years ago

Good list, but what about all of the fans that streamed onto the field after Bill Mazeroski’s home run in 1960?

With all the fans running out onto the field in the Skydome/Rogers Centre, it’s amazing there weren’t more after Joe Carter’s walk-off in 1993.

7 years ago

The comment about Craig Sager is incorrect or at best misleading. Sager was not one of the two teens who ran around the bases. He was there with a media pass and was part of the group who met him at the plate. Watch the video to the link you provided.

Jetsy Extrano
7 years ago

Wow, the Aaron one is amazing, I never even heard about that. And other interesting stuff here.

And who the hell throws a kitten out onto a baseball field.

Francis Jackson
7 years ago

When I was a lad in Philadelphia in the late 1950s and 1960s, no Sunday double-header was complete without someone running onto the field. I don’t know if it was drunkenness or not. Maybe impatience, as Connie Mack Stadium used to allow fans to leave the ballpark by going onto the field and heading towards the exit in the outfield fence. Perhaps some fans just couldn’t wait for the game to end. One thing for sure, given the fortunes of the Phillies back then, the fans weren’t running onto the field to celebrate anything.

7 years ago

What about Rick Monday saving the American Flag at Dodger Stadium, when two “fans” ran onto the field to set it ablaze?

7 years ago

Wednesday, September 23, 1908 – Polo Grounds

Fans storm the field after an apparent game winning single for the Giants in the last two weeks of a tight 3-way NL pennant race. Giants reserve Fred Merkle on first base turns off halfway to second to avoid the mob, but Cub shortstop Joe Tinker calls for the ball, any ball.

Merkle is ruled forced-out, which negates the winning run. After the Cubs and Giants end the season tied ½ game ahead of the Pirates, the game is replayed four days after the end of the schedule. Cubs win 4-2 and go on to repeat as World Series champions.

87 Cards
7 years ago

Angel Pagan’s active interest in his protecting securing his office took me back to Baltimore Colts linebacker Mike Curtis assisting Memorial Stadium security with a delusional fan. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HdP2G7UtS9I

Chuck Hildebrandt
7 years ago

You know, I have been wondering for some years at what point fans stopped streaming onto the field after, say, a home World Series win. What were the circumstances that led to the change occurring?

7 years ago

I was at a Royals game in the late 70s where an umpire, due to the heat of the artificial turf, fainted. Amos Otis, the centerfielder, laid down his glove and a shirtless guy ran onto the field from right field, took A.O.’s glove, and ran towards the left field seats.

When my dad and I were boarding the KAKE bus after the game, the police were taking the arrested fan to the police car with his hands handcuffed behind his back. He broke away and led the cops on a chase towards Arrowhead Stadium. Very determined fan.

7 years ago

Most of these can be attributed to The Wonders of Alcohol.

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6 years ago

In the Chicago area, the biggest changes will be at Macy’s stores at the Gurnee Mills, Fox Valley and Spring Hill malls, which will take shoe boxes off backroom shelves and start stacking them on the sales floor within the next month.