Published April 16, 2003
| Associated Press
CHICAGO – A fan rushed from the stands and attacked an umpire during Tuesday night's game between the Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox in an eerie reminder of a similar fight last year at the same ballpark.
Security and players immediately came to the aid of Laz Diaz, the first-base umpire, and the man was quickly taken away. White Sox spokesman Scott Reifert reported that Diaz said he was feeling fine.
The attack occurred about 100 feet from the spot where Royals first-base coach Tom Gamboa was pummeled by a father and son who came out of the stands at Comiskey Park last September. It was the first appearance by the Royals in Chicago since the attack.
Immediately after Carlos Lee flied out to end Chicago's eighth inning Tuesday, the fan ran on the field and tried to tackle Diaz, wrapping his arms around the umpire's legs.
Royals right fielder Brandon Berger was one of the first to get to Diaz's aid. Berger knelt down and appeared to punch at the fan, who was on the ground with his arms wrapped around Diaz's ankle.
Three times earlier Tuesday night, the game was delayed when fans ran onto the field before being tackled by security guards. All three of those fans were charged with trespassing, the White Sox said.
"The behavior of four people attending tonight's game was reprehensible and will not be tolerated," the White Sox said in a statement. "They will be prosecuted to the fullest extend the law allows. The actions of four idiots in no way reflects Sox fans or the fans of Chicago."
Gamboa, attacked last Sept. 19, is now Kansas City's bullpen coach. The 55-year-old coach still has a minor hearing loss in his right ear following the beating.
The boy, 15 at the time, was sentenced to five years of probation and also ordered to undergo mandatory counseling and perform 30 hours of community service.
The boy was arrested along with his father, William Ligue Jr., who initially pleaded innocent to charges of aggravated battery and mob action. The case is still pending.
Before Tuesday's game, Gamboa tried to downplay his return to the park.
"I haven't given it a thought really," Gamboa said. "Lightning doesn't strike twice."
The Royals rallied to win 8-5 -- running their record to 11-1 -- by scoring four runs in the ninth as Mike Sweeney hit a two-run homer.