On Saturday night, the Red Sox-Yankees game in New York was delayed briefly after a fan in the left field bleachers at Yankee Stadium threw a ball at Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo, resulting in Boston’s entire team walking off the field until the fan was identified and removed.
A fan throws a ball at Alex Verdugo and he is not happy. The Red Sox all left the field pic.twitter.com/Z8GHRZd2oY
— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) July 18, 2021
It was an ugly scene and, unfortunately, something that has seemed like an all-too-common occurrence at sporting events since fans were allowed back into arenas and stadiums. The NBA saw a number of incidents involving unacceptable fan behavior during the postseason, including an injured Russell Westbrook having popcorn dumped on him, a Knicks fan spitting at Trae Young, and a fan running onto the court in Washington. Even golf has seen unruly spectators, with a fan running onto the fairway and hitting shots at the U.S. Open as Bryson DeChambeau’s group was coming through.
After the game, Verdugo spoke on the incident and called for fans to simply remember that the players are people too, with feelings and lives off the field just like the fans, and calling for a basic level of respect to be offered their way.
Alex Verdugo’s response to the #Yankees fan who hit him with a ball last night was perfect.
Can’t fault for how emotional he was when everything went down.
— Tyler Milliken (@tylermilliken_) July 18, 2021
On Sunday, the Yankees and MLB announced that the fan who threw the ball at Verdugo has been banned for life from all 30 ballparks.
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) July 18, 2021
It is the appropriate course of action from MLB in terms of doing what was the minimum they could and doing so in a timely manner. As is always the case with stadium bans, one can’t help but wonder exactly how enforceable that is given the availability of tickets on the secondary market, but it is still the step they have to take here and it will hopefully serve as another reminder to fans that there are consequences for unacceptable behavior like this.