Top 10 Times Athletes Clashed With Fans



Top 10 Times Athletes Clashed With Fans

VOICE OVER: Peter DeGiglio WRITTEN BY: Whitney Wilson
For these fans, watching simply wasn't enough. For this list, we'll be looking at times fans interfered with or got physical with athletes or coaches during play. Our countdown includes The Jeffrey Maier Incident, The Steve Bartman Incident, Malice at the Palace, and more!

Top 10 Athlete-Fan Interactions Gone Wrong

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Athlete-Fan Interactions Gone Wrong.

For this list, we’ll be looking at times fans interfered with or got physical with athletes or coaches during play.

What’s the craziest fan interaction you have ever seen at a sporting event? Be sure to share with us in the comments below.

#10: Frank Francisco’s Chair Rage

When you go to a baseball game, there’s almost always a risk of getting hit by a ball… but you don’t expect to get hit by a folding chair. During a 2004 game between the Texas Rangers and the Oakland A’s, an Oakland season ticket holder heckled the Rangers’ pitchers. Apparently, relief pitcher Frank Francisco’s patience ran out during the ninth inning, so he threw a folding chair into the crowd. Despite being paid to have decent aim, Francisco hit the trash-talker’s wife instead, breaking her nose. The pitcher was arrested and sentenced to a work program and anger management classes.

#9: The Jeffrey Maier Incident

During the first game of the 1996 American League Championship Series between the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles, Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter hit a fly ball to right field. Luckily for him, 12-year-old Jeffrey Maier was sitting in the best spot possible. Maier reached over the fence and grabbed the ball with his glove. Umpire Rich Garcia ruled the play a home run, much to the dismay of the Orioles. The Yankees won the game, and went on to beat the Atlanta Braves in the World Series. As for Maier, he became a local celebrity and sat behind the Yankees dugout later in the postseason.

#8: Reggie Smith Fights a Fan

The San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers have been bitter rivals since the two teams were based in New York. Any rivalry that has simmered for such a long time is bound to have its ugly moments, and this definitely qualifies as one of those. In 1981, Giants fan Michael Dooley attended a game between the rival teams and verbally harassed the Dodgers. Dooley took the heckling to another level when he threw a batting helmet at outfielder Reggie Smith. Naturally, Smith retaliated and jumped into the stands to fight the troublesome fan. Smith was ejected and Dooley was arrested. Funnily enough, Smith ended up joining the Giants in free agency just a few months later.

#7: Tie Domi Brawls With a Heckler

Long before Gritty captured the hearts of Philadelphia Flyers fans, another energetic fan made headlines in the City of Brotherly Love. During a 2001 matchup between the Flyers and the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto right wing Tie Domi was sitting in the penalty box when a heckler began harassing him. Domi sprayed the vocal fan with his water bottle, prompting Flyers fanatic Christopher Falcone to go after Domi. The glass panel gave way, and Falcone fell into the penalty box, where he was greeted by Domi’s fists. The fight was broken up and Domi was fined $1000 but not suspended. The two men later made up, and Domi even gave Falcone tickets to a couple of playoff games in Toronto.

#6: Two Fans Attack Tom Gamboa

Usually, father and son outings to baseball games result in wholesome memories, but this particular father-son duo was more interested in harm than hot dogs. During a 2002 game between the Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox, the ninth inning was interrupted by two shirtless fans running out of the stands. The two men, identified as William Ligue, Jr., and his son, attacked Royals’ first base coach Tom Gamboa. The Royals bench rushed over and pulled the attackers off their coach, but unfortunately, Gamboa suffered permanent hearing loss in his right ear due to the incident. The attackers were sentenced to several months of parole for their crime.

#5: Patriots Fan Tackles Junior Seau

Massachusetts sports fans have a reputation for being rowdy, and sometimes that can even carry over to how they interact with their own teams. The late Junior Seau was a top linebacker for the Patriots. However, sometimes even the best tackler can become the tacklee. During a 2008 game between the New England Patriots and the Arizona Cardinals, Seau was on the sidelines when fan Todd Kobus jumped over a fence onto the field and tackled Seau. Kobus later said he simply meant to hug the linebacker, but he was still charged with trespassing and assault and battery. We definitely understand the urge to hug your favorite athlete, but maybe stick to fan mail next time.

#4: Sasha Lakovic Retaliates

Fights are almost always on the menu at hockey games, but those scuffles usually don’t involve fans. During a 1996 game between the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers, one Oilers fan apparently had one too many sips of liquid courage and started shouting at the opposing team’s bench. The drunk fan took it a step too far and poured a drink and popcorn on Flames assistant coach Guy Lapointe. Calgary player Sasha Lakovic immediately stood up for his coach by jumping over the glass and throwing punches. Several teammates and coaches pulled Lakovic back, and he was suspended for two games.

#3: The Steve Bartman Incident

Buying a ticket to a baseball game shouldn’t lead to needing police protection. During Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series between the Florida Marlins and Chicago Cubs, Marlins batter Luis Castillo hit the ball into left field. As Chicago outfielder Moisés Alou leapt to catch the ball, Cubs fan Steve Bartman deflected the ball, potentially preventing the second out of the inning. The Cubs ultimately lost both the game and the series. As for Bartman, he had to be escorted from the game by security, and police cars later surrounded his family home for his safety. More than a decade later, the Cubs gifted Bartman a championship ring after they won the 2016 World Series.

#2: Boston Bruins Players vs. New York Rangers Fans

Madison Square Garden has seen its share of historic fights, but those fights usually don’t involve the fans. This 1979 game between the New York Rangers and the Boston Bruins was physical from the get-go, but the fists really started flying as the game ended. After the final buzzer, the teams started fighting, and Rangers fan John Kaptain hit Bruin Stan Jonathan with a program before snatching his stick. Jonathan’s teammate Terry O’Reilly entered the stands to retrieve the stick, and eighteen other Bruins followed. The brawl between the players and fans escalated, with player Mike Milbury hitting Kaptain with his own shoe. Only one Bruin, goaltender Gerry Cheevers, was not involved in the incident and therefore not fined afterward.

#1: Malice at the Palace

During the final minute of this 2004 game between the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons, Pacers player Ron Artest fouled Ben Wallace, causing a scuffle. Artest laid down on the scorer’s table, and Pistons fan John Green threw a drink on Artest. The small forward entered the stands and grabbed another fan who he believed to be the instigator. The brawl escalated, and the referees called the game without finishing up the final seconds. Nine players were suspended for a total of 146 games, and five fans were banned from Pistons home games for life. This incident led to rule changes, limited alcohol sales at games and more than $11 million in lost salaries due to suspensions.