Fan Violence, Stupidity Make Their Way to Turner Field

Abner LopeCorrespondent IMay 8, 2008

I understand loyalty and fans rabidly supporting their teams. But when they turn violent against other fans simply because they prefer different teams, it is appalling and sickening.

Consider the following news story that recently came out of Atlanta. This wasn't a playoff game or even a regular season game with a division title in the balance. It was a regular season game early in the year.

I sincerely hope they catch the pathetic animals responsible for this. The following was extracted from "When fans attack" by John Grupp (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review).


Bobby Collins has lived in Macon, GA all of his life and has loved the Pirates for nearly as longprimarily because he adored Roberto Clemente as a youngster, and watched former Pirate Chico Lind play for the club's minor-league affiliate in Macon. Through thick and thin, he has remained loyal to his Pirates. It was Collins' yearly tradition to make the northern trek to Atlanta to see the Braves play his Bucs several times during the season.

That's why it is so sickening that Collins, an optimistic, mild-mannered baseball fan, recently ended up with a broken jaw and most of his teeth missingall because he wore a Pirates cap to Turner Field.

Collins, 52, attended the April 2 Pirates-Braves game with his 11-year-old nephew, Tyler, and a friend. While Collins referred all questions regarding the assault to his attorney, his friend who attended the game, Andy Coggins, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution what happened. Collins, wearing a Pirates hat, became the verbal target of some beer-drinking, rowdy fans sitting in front of him. They took exception to his choice of baseball loyalty; and later, one of them sucker-punched Collins as fans left the stadium.

Collins told Coggins that the attacker was among the rowdy fans sitting near them. The blow knocked many of Collins' teeth out and broke his jaw and other bones in his face, according to an Atlanta police report.

"Bobby didn't say squat to those guys," Coggins told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "He didn't deserve what he got." Collins, a father of one who works in landscape maintenance, is still healing.

"I still hurt," Collins said from his home Friday afternoon. "It's the first time I had encountered anyone of that kind of behavior or lack thereof."

During the third inning, a group of six young Caucasian men sat down in the row in front of them, drinking beer and getting rowdy—but no words were ever addressed to Collins, Coggins said. But during the seventh inning, Coggins said one of the men turned around and said something abusive to Collins. Collins, who is African-American, chose to ignore it. 

Coggins said they decided to leave in the bottom of the eighth inning, with the Braves en route to an eventual 10-2 victory. While leaving the stadium, Collins saw a cigarette fly by the side of his face; out of reflex, he turned around and was hit by a member of the group of rowdy fans, Coggins said. The assailant escaped into the exiting, dense crowd.

Atlanta police spokesman Eric Schwartz told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he is unaware if any arrests have been made, but Coggins said it would be easy to identify Collins' attacker.

The loud group was shown dancing on the stadium's big-screen TV during the game. Police also took possession of a cell phone found under the seat of one of the suspects.