There’s no crying in baseball, but a sleepy Bronx Bombers fan is whining in court that he got mocked by two ESPN announcers for snoozing in his seat at Yankee Stadium.
Andrew Rector has filed a $10 million defamation suit against the team, the sports network, its play-by-play man Dan Shulman and big-leaguer-turned-commentator John Kruk, who he claims unleashed an “avalanche of disparaging words” over his nationally televised nap.
Rector admits in the Bronx Supreme Court suit that he “briefly slept” during the April 13 night game between the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.
But his typo-ridden suit says Shulman and Kruk’s “false statements” include suggestions that Rector is “not worthy” to be a Yankee fan and “is a fatty cow that need two seats at all time and represent symbol of failure.”
It also says Rector was made out to be “a confused individual that neither understands nor knows anything about history and the meaning of rivalry between Red Sox and New York Yankee.”
As a result, the used-car dealer claims to have “suffered substantial injury” to his “character and reputation,” as well as “mental anguish, loss of future income and loss of earning capacity.”
His July 3 filing also names Major League Baseball as a defendant.
A YouTube video posted by MLB and titled, “Fan sleeps in stands during game vs. Red Sox,” shows the heavy-set Rector slumped in his seat with his eyes shut and his head lolling over his right shoulder.
Audio of the play-by-play reveals Shulman and Kruk surprised to find the fan snoozing , with Kruk noting: “It’s only the fourth inning!”
“Did he sleep through the [Carlos] Beltran homer? I mean 45,000 people stand up and cheer, and he sleeps through?” Shulman asked.
“I think it would be tough to, but he seemed pretty comfortable,” Kruk answered. “It didn’t look like he just started to sleep.”
They also poked fun at Rector’s obvious girth, with Shulman asking the famously rotund Kruk: “Not a cousin? Not a relative?”
“No, I don’t think so, but you never know,” Kruk replied. “I didn’t get a good look at him because of the head tilt. But I mean physically he could be, yeah.”
The recording doesn’t include any of the most inflammatory words alleged in the suit — including “fatty” and “stupid” — which Rector claims were heard “by millions of people.”
Rector’s lawyer, Valentine Okwara, said only, “We’ll settle this in court.”
His mom, Hana, said he was out of town and couldn’t be reached, but she defended his suit.
“It should send the message that idiots need to stay out of people’s business and not make fun of people who are harmless,” she said.
ESPN and the Yanks declined to comment. An MLB rep didn’t respond to an e-mail inquiry.
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