Note to TTH August 17, 2000
Assholes in the Outfield: A fan ran onto the field and mooned the crowd at a Giants game. Mike Koppel brought police report to Judith Garvey, who showed it to Linda Klee. Linda decided not chargeable as a 314 because no sexual intent. Lt. Ballentine very insistent “On behalf of the Giants. The Umpires Association wants to see the case charged.”
Ballentine goes to see Klee himself. Calls her again, has talked to city attorney. Was advised that 602.5 can be charged. But you have to tell the person to leave, so trespass doesn’t work says Klee. Ballentine says of players, “They’re million-dollar racehorses. Very valuable commodities in SF.”
John Rocker coming to town. Giants want to send a message to fans not to act out.
Judith says “If the report was better written we might have been able to charge, but the report didn’t show how the game was disrupted.” She can fill you in on the details.
PS 7/20/20 John Rocker was the Atlanta Braves’ big, fastballing closer. He had been quoted in Sports Illustrated saying that taking a train to Shea Stadium in New York was like riding through Beirut, “next to some kid with purple hair next to some queer with AIDS right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids.” Rocker also called a Black teammate “a fat monkey” and dissed foreigners, immigrants and Asian women drivers.
Joan Walsh of Salon wrote about Rocker’s subsequent appearance in San Francisco. (It was the Giants’ second season at cozy Pac Bell Park.) “Up close, I couldn’t help but pity Rocker, who wears his ignorance on his face like a disfiguring birthmark. Eyes close-set, scowl ever-present, Rocker was given a strong arm but a weak mind. He hasn’t matured thanks to his year of notoriety; after a round of faux-apologies, he’s decided to embrace his asshole status and embellish it any chance he gets.”
Rocker was called on to pitch the ninth inning of the last game of the series. Fans razzed him as he warmed up. “Gay hecklers were merciless,” Walsh reported. “’Johnny, there are gay men out here staring at you. How do you like it?’ A few pitches later, the same guy turned it up a notch: ‘Johnny, how can you ignore me after last night? The promises we made?’
“Rocker ignored the gay heckler and turned on a relatively mild-mannered loudmouth in the second row. ‘You’re just a pussy,’ he told him, and fell silent as he hurled a few fastballs over the plate. Then he finished the thought: ‘And I’m an American.’”
An email from a woman named Cindy Glatz arrived on my screen 8/7/01:
“My 10 year old son and I were purposely rammed by a gentleman in a motorboat last weekend in McCovey Cove, endangering and frightening us. The gentleman’s name is Mr. Steve Jackson. He lives in Alameda and his phone number is 510-522-XXXX,
“When I reported this incident to the US Coast Guard, I was referred by the investigating officer, Lieutenant Tony Morris, to the San Francisco DA for possible assault and battery charges.
“My son and I were operating a small, homebuilt kayak in the Cove when Mr. Jackson deliberately rammed us. He bore down on us at full throttle and hit our kayak with his motorboat in order to prevent my son from picking up a Barry Bonds home run ball that had fallen in the water near us. Mr. Jackson’s illegal boat operation resulted in him recovering the ball.
“An associate of Mr. Jackson stated that the ball was worth ‘about $5,000’ and that justified the grossly negligent behavior. Mr Jackson is with the company “mccovey-cove.com” and he has recovered a number of home run balls in the Cove.
“Mr. Jackson was cited by the San Francisco Police marine unit for speeding and hit and run, but I feel the small fine he faces for that citation will not deter him from continuing to endanger others and I would like to file criminal charges if possible.”
The SFPD Incident Report by Sgt. Danny Lopez stated that a four-man Marine Patrol Unit had responded to a complaint of a boating accident on August 4. “We went to south beach marina’s guest dock where Cindy Glatz pointed out Jackson to me standing on the dock with several other people. Cindy Glatz made a citizens arrest and signed a SFPD Form 80 (09/82). Jackson was cited for Negligent, Reckless Vehicle Operation -65080 and released at the dock. Officer Brandt conducted a safety boarding of his vessel. Jackson informed me that ‘she hit him’ with her boat. Jackson informed me that he was only traveling at about 10 Kts [a knot = 1.15 miles per hour] when she hit him as he recovered the baseball. This area has two signs posted facing the boaters in the cove of a 5 MPH speed limit.”
I emailed Cindy Glatz on 8/7 to ask if she knew who had taped the episode. In a PS I added, “a few years ago a writer named Don De Lillo published a novel called ‘Underworld’ that starts with a scramble for the ball that Bobby Thompson hit in the Polo Grounds to win the pennant for the Giants in 1951.”
On 8/22 came this surprising response from Cindy:
“Dear Fred, If the San Francisco DA is still considering possible assault charges against Steve Jackson for the Aug. 4th incident, I’d like to request that it not be pursued. I feel that Mr. Jackson has been punished enough.
“There is no question that Mr. Jackson opened his throttle farther than the law allows and even violated the right of way of the kayak paddled by my son and I, but I don’t feel his actions were felonious. If the fines resulting from the citations issued by the San Francisco Police Department were not enough to discourage a repetition of this behavior, the media’s response certainly was.
“My son and I attended another home game in the Cove last weekend and were discouraged to find that the San Francisco police marine unit was a constant and overbearing presence in McCovey Cove. On August 4th their response was immediate and appropriate and to my complaint, but now there is too much presence, it is stressful to have the high-powered police muscle boat constantly babysitting the splash zone. I think it was the police boat’s wake last Sunday that pushed a burning barbecue on a float into the side of an inflatable boat which then sank.”
On 8/23 Executive Director Doug Wong sent a memo to the Port Commission (whose five members included Denise McCarthy, ex-wife of Warren Hinckle) anticipating a naval melee if Barry Bonds hit a record-breaking homer into McCovey Cove. “The value of such a memento could easily be in the millions of dollars,” according to Wong. (The ball that Mark McGuire hit for his record-breaking 70th homer in 1998 had sold at auction for $3.2 million, but that was before the dot.com bubble burst.) The Commission adopted new rules —a speed limit of five nautical miles per hour and a “No Motoring Zone” to be delineated by Coast Guard buoys. Bonds broke McGuire’s major league record, hitting homers 71 and 72 at home on October 5. He hit number 73 on October 7 but it wasn’t a splasher.
Popov v. Hayashi
Ownership of the baseball that Barry Bonds hit into the right field stands for his 73rd home run of the 2001season would be the subject of a civil suit brought in San Francisco Superior Court by Alex Popov, the man who caught the ball in his mitt, against Patrick Hayashi, who emerged with it from the wild scrum that immediately ensued.
It had taken about two minutes for Major League Baseball security operatives to reach the scene and escort Hayashi away to authenticate that the ball in his possession was the one Bonds had hit. (It’s a high-tech process said to involve markings visible under ultraviolet light.) Popov called Hayashi to “do the right thing” and return the ball. As the MLB ops hurried the ball-holder off, some witnesses called out “Do the right thing.”
The Giants echoed the MLB line that possession is 100 percent of the law. According to Jorge Costa, senior vice president of ballpark operations, MLB deemed Hayashi the owner when they escorted him from the stands. Costa explained to ESPN, “Baseball officials said, ‘You’re the guy who has possession of the ball, let’s go to a location and check the markings and do the backup paperwork.”
Costa put it this way to the Chronicle: “The ball was there and he got it. When the other guy (Popov) showed up (at the Giants office) and wanted to talk about all this stuff, I said: ‘I don’t even know why this guy’s here. Once Major League Baseball identifies the individual with possession of the ball, that’s the end of that.”
Popov had spent three days pleading his case to everyone he and his lawyer thought might be useful, including the Giants front office and the Bay Area media. Although Popov was alleging assault, battery, and theft, Terence Hallinan thought that the act Hayashi committed was “conversion.” Which means, “the wrongful exercise of dominion over the property of another.”
Popov went to civil court seeking a restraining order to stop Hayashi from selling the precious sphere. He told reporters that money wasn’t his motive, he wanted to secure his little niche in baseball history. Though not wealthy (Popov lived in SF and ran a small health-food restaurant in Berkeley called Smart Alec’s), he spared no expense interviewing witness.
KNTV cameraman Josh Keppel stated in a declaration supporting Popov, “On October 7, 2001, I was assigned to Pacific Bell Park for a story regarding increased security after the events of September 11, 2001… Whenever Barry Bonds came to bat, I would make my way to the arcade area behind right field where I was able to sit on a box to be above the crowd. When Barry Bonds hit his 73rd home run in the first inning, I zoomed in on Barry Bonds and then zoomed back out to quickly film the fan who catches the baseball. As shown on the videotape, Alex Popov caught the baseball and then is attacked by a number of fans.”
Another witness, Kathy Sorenson, declared “Within seconds after catching the ball, Popov was attacked by no less than six and as many as 15 individuals, including defendant Patrick Hayashi… While Popov was on the ground, I heard him screaming, “I caught it!” “Get off!” And “Help!” While Popov was beneath this pile I saw three people, next to the pile, ripping scratching and tearing at Popov. Two of the people were near my feet. Hayashi was behind and to the left of Popov. Hayashi came up between Popov’s legs ad under him in the pile. While Hayashi was trying to reach the baseball, a 12-to-15-year-old child came up behind Popov. This child’s leg was interfering with Hayashi’s ability to reach the ball. I saw Hayashi bite the child’s leg. I heard the child say “Ouch!” and saw the child back out of Hayashi’s way. Hayashi continued digging and then stopped. Hayashi stood up and backed away. I then saw that Hayashi now had the ball.”
As an expert witness Popov brought in Paul Finkelman, a constitutional law professor and author of “Baseball and the American Legal Mind,” “Baseball and the Rule of Law, and “Fugitive Baseballs, Abandoned Property.” Finkleman stated in his declaration, “It has been the common practice in Professional Baseball since the 1940s that any baseball hit into the stands belongs to the fan who caught the baseball… The television media will frequently focus their cameras upon the fan who catches a ball. The San Francisco Giants web site describes that fans interest in catching a homerun hit by Barry Bond (sic) should stand in the arcade area, where I understand Mr. Popov was standing. Therefore, a baseball fan must only catch the ball to obtain title to the baseball.
“The baseball fan continues to own the baseball under legal principles of property, until he sells or abandons the baseball… According to the videotape, Mr. Popov caught the ball. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Popov was attacked and assaulted by a group of fans knocking him to the ground. As a society, we cannot condone the behavior of individuals who knock down, punch and scratch and bite people in an attempt to take posssesson of a Baseball.”
Superior Court Judge David Garcia granted the injunction sought by Popov and ordered the ball stashed in a Bank of America safe deposit box accessible only to the court until Popov v. Hayashi went to trial, which it did a year later. After a 15-day trial in which lawyers cited old whaling laws and fox-hunting cases, Judge Kevin McCarthy “split the baby,” as the saying goes, ordering that the ball be sold at auction and the proceeds split 50-50. Both plaintiff and defendant were disappointed and bad-mouthed each other outside the courtroom. But their interests had been merged. They agreed on an auction house and the ball was sold in June 2003 for $517,500 to Todd McFarland —a comic book creator who had paid $3,200,000 for Mark McGuire’s 70th in ’98.
Popov had paid his lawyer by the hour and Court TV reported that he “hinted that his debt was in the hundreds of thousands.” Hayashi had made a contingency arrangement with his lawyer and fared better.
From the SF Chronicle story by Susan Sward 10/10/01:
“Raiders placekicker Sebastian Janikowski will not face criminal drug charges in connection with an incident at a San Francisco club, a spokesman for District Attorney Terence Hallinan said yesterday. Fred Gardner, spokesman for Hallinan, said that because Janikowski was not arrested, “the ball is not in the D.A.’s court.” (Back then I had three speeds on my No Comment.)
“Janikowski, 23, might face discipline from the team or the NFL because of what happened at the Sno-Drift club early Monday. According to a police report, the doorman told officers that someone possibly had overdosed on the drug GHB (gamma hydroxy butyrate). The officers entered to find Janikowski “incoherent and wildly flailing around on the floor…”
A buddy of Janikowski’s told police that a woman had slipped him a mickey, but several witness said he had taken the so-called “date rape drug” voluntarily. (It’s a stong hallucinogen.)
Janikowski’s Florida-based agent said that his client “had a few drinks” and slipped on the dance floor. A year earlier Janikowski had been tried in Tallahassee for possession of GHB. It didn’t deter the Raiders from making him their first-round draft pick. A good choice. He would play for 19 seasons and kick 436 field goals, the longest a 63-yarder.
I sent a tendentious note to Sward (one of the Chronicle’s best reporters): “The War on Drugs promotes the use GHB. Many young people take it instead of marijuana to loosen up at dance halls because GHB is undetectable by the drug testers.”