10 Best/Worst Fan Incidents

Danny Paskas@DannyPaskasSenior Analyst IAugust 12, 2011

10 Best/Worst Fan Incidents

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    After I saw that idiot fan at the Arena Football game grab the player when he was waiting to return a kick earlier this week, my brain was forced into motion thinking of more fan interactions during games or at any other sporting events.

    A few came to me very quickly, while others had me searching. Here’s my list of the best/worst fan interactions.

10. Arena Football Fan Incident

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    We’ll start off with what made me think of this list in the first place. It was during an Arena Football League Conference Title game between the Georgia Force and the Jacksonville Sharks.

    C.J. Johnson of the Georgia Force was in the end zone waiting for a kickoff when a Sharks fan grabbed him, held on to him and wouldn’t let him go. Credit Johnson for not striking the guy back, since he had every right to.

    For his part, the fan got high fives from a few Sharks players, his 15 minutes of fame and an ejection. The Force was awarded the ball on the 20-yard line and later lost the game.

9. Diving Fan Interference

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    In 1986, when Thornton Melon decided to go back to school to help his frustrated son, Jason, get through college, we meet Jason’s best friend Derek Lutz, who later in life became Iron Man, but that’s inconsequential.

    To support Jason on the diving team, Derek became quite the overzealous fan. To distract the opposing diving team, Derek would use a mirror to reflect the sun right on the rival divers’ faces just as they were about to dive.

    If that wasn’t enough, he would blow his trusty air horn at the perfect moment to cause failure.

8. Disco Demolition Night

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    In 1979, White Sox management put together a “Disco Demolition Night,” where fans could bring their unwanted disco records to the game and pay just a $.98 admission fee. The records were to be collected and blown up in center field by a local DJ after the first game of a doubleheader.

    Management was expecting a crowd of 12,000, but what they got was chaos. An estimated 90,000 brought their disco hatred to the 52,000 seat Comiskey Park. When the records were detonated, the explosives blew a hole in the outfield grass, causing a small fire.

    Thousands of fans rushed the field and mayhem ensued. The batting cage was pulled down, bases were stolen, banners were burned. Overall craziness.

    Wasn’t disco just about getting down? Who would have thought such a backlash? I wish we could do a “Bieber Blow-up Night.”

    Needless to say, the second game of the doubleheader was forfeited and still remains the last game forfeited in the American League.

7. Night of Shame

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    Referred to as the “Night of Shame” for Greek Basketball, crazy fans brought participation to a whole new level. The game was between long-time rivals Olympiacos Reds and Panathinaikos Greens, it was the fourth game of the 2010 HEBA A1 finals with Panathinaikos leading the best of five series 2-1.

    The game was held at Olympiacos’ home stadium. The name of the stadium? And I could not have made this up if I tried, Peace and Friendship Stadium.

    Reds fans, who were reportedly so angered by what they thought to be biased officiating favoring the Greens in Game 3, started rioting even before the game, forcing police to use tear gas.

    The game started 40 minutes late and was stopped in the third quarter for about an hour due to Reds fans throwing, what seemed to be anything they can find at the Panathinaikos bench, including a smoke bomb.

    After many fans were escorted out and with only about 2,000 people remaining, the throwing objects started again with a little more than a minute remaining in the game.

    With Panathinaikos leading the home team by seven, officials forfeited the game and awarded the Greens the championship. They had to be escorted of the court by riot police. Olympiacos was fined and forced to play the following seasons’ first nine home games behind closed doors and without live TV coverage.

    And to think, this is an option for some of our NBA players? Please work something out, guys

6. Soccer Is Serious

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    Although this incident didn’t occur during a game, it is a doosie. It should be higher on my list but hey, this is America and soccer is low on our totem pole.

    After returning home from the 1994 FIFA World Cup, where he accidentally scored on his own net during a game between Columbia and the US, resulting in a 2-1 US victory, Andres Escobar was confronted by a gunman outside a bar in Medillin.

    The gunman shot Escobar six times, killing him, reportedly shouting, "GOAL" after each shot fired. I cringe to think of what would have happened to Scott Norwood if Buffalo Bills fans were as passionate.

5. Golf Fan Incident

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    When an unorthodox newcomer golfer named Happy Gilmore brought his long ball hitting to the PGA tour, he was a bit of a joke due to his total lack of a short game. However, after a steady climb up the rankings and placing in a few tournaments, he became the talk of the golf world.

    A jealous opponent named Shooter McGavin, did not take kindly to his diminishing spotlight decided to take matters into his own hands. McGavin paid off one of his most loyal fans to mess with Gilmore during a Pro-Am tournament.

    The fan was relentless in his taunting of Gilmore, yelling, “Jackass” in almost every one of his backswings or while he was lining up for a shot.

    Ultimately, Happy took his aggression not out on the annoying fan but rather on his own partner, Bob Barker. The fight between Barker resulted in a suspension for Gilmore.

4. Malice at the Palace

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    With less than a minute left in a game between the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons, the “Malice at the Palace” began. It all began with Ron Artest fouling Ben Wallace from behind on a layup attempt.

    After the foul, Wallace turned around and pushed Artest right in the chest, which led to more pushing. Then, Artest went and laid down on the scorer’s table.

    Next, it happened, spectator John Green threw a cup of Diet Coke, hitting the laying-down Artest right in the chest. That is when all hell broke loose. Artest rushed into the stands attacking a fan who he thought threw the cup, Stephen Jackson quickly followed him, running in with fists swinging.

    More players from both teams entered the stands while fans went out on the court to escape. Another fight broke out when Artest was back on the court and confronted by two fans, Alvin "A.J." Shackleford and Charlie Haddad.

    Artest punched Shackleford and pushed over Haddad in the process. Jermaine O'Neal got involved by punching Haddad in the jaw after a running start. The scene became so volatile that arena security struggled to get everything back under control.

    When leaving the court, the Pacers were pelted with debris, more soda was thrown and even a chair was launched.

    The brawl resulted in the NBA suspending nine players for a total of 146 games with the suspended players all together losing in excess of $11 million of salary due during the suspensions.

    Ron Artest, now all-around good guy who re-named himself Metta World Peace, was punished the most severely, losing close to $5 million and 86 games alone. I, for one, always hated Diet Coke too.

3. Karate Interference

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    Okay, this one really isn’t a fan interference/incident per se, but I’m going to include it. In the 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament finals, Cobra Kai’s Johnny Lawrence was dominating newcomer Miyagi Do’s Daniel LaRusso and was well on his way to another championship.

    Now, granted Lawrence’s sensei, John Kreese, was a tad psychotic and may have been a little over the top. And maybe he was overbearing and had mind control over Johnny when he told him to hurt Larusso, which he did.

    In fact, Lawrence hurt Larusso so badly that he should have been unable to continue the match, therefore forfeiting the championship to its rightful owners, Lawrence and Cobra Kai.

    But then, along comes Mr. Miyagi with his hand slap then rubbing them together for some kind of miracle cure thing. I call interference.

    Miyagi’s interference cost Lawrence and Cobra Kai the championship which most definitely led to the end of their reign as the Valley’s No. 1 dojo.

2. Jeffrey Maier Incident

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    Could a 12-year-old really alter an MLB American League Championship Series? A lot of Baltimore Orioles fans overwhelmingly would say yes.

    This fan incident happened in 1996 during the ALCS with the New York Yankees trailing the Orioles 4-3 in the bottom of the eighth inning.

    When Derek Jeter hit a deep fly ball to right field, right fielder, Tony Tarasco seemed to track the ball down, then 12-year-old Yankees fan Jeffrey Maier reached over the fence and deflected the ball into the stands.

    Right field umpire Rich Garcia immediately called it a home run, tying the game 4-4. Tarasco and Baltimore manager Davey Johnson argued their case to no avail.

    Johnson was ejected and the Yankees wound up winning the game on a Bernie Williams’ walk-off home run in the 11th. The Orioles protested the Maier play but nothing came of it.

    Later, umpire Garcia admitted spectator interference but to cover himself said the ball was uncatchable. Now, to be fair, this all happened in Game 1, the Orioles went on to win the next game, losing the series 4-1 while the Yankees went on to win the World Series.

    Maier was given the key to New York City by Rudy Giuliani, tickets behind the Yankee dugout later during that postseason and appeared on multiple talk shows.

    Later in his life, he became quite the college baseball player, becoming Wesleyan University’s career hits leader. He never made it to bigs, though.

    YouTube is not giving the video, but if you want to see it, just click on the following link.


1. The Bartman Incident

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    Number one has to be the Bartman incident, right? I still feel sorry for this guy. It must have been a magical time for the Chicago Cubs Nation in October 2003. A die-hard fan base that hasn’t seen their beloved team win the World Series since 1908.

    It was all about to happen, they were on their way to the World Series. The Cubs were actually about to win the NLCS, at Wrigley Field no less, imagine the huge party about to break out.

    It was the eighth inning of Game Six, the Cubs were up 3-0 in the game against the Florida Marlins while holding a 3 games to 2 series lead.

    Then, Marlins’ second baseman Luis Castillo hit a foul ball into left field where Cubs outfielder Moises Alou gave chase for the potential second out catch. Several fans tried to catch the foul ball but one fan, Steve Bartman, touched the ball, which disrupted the possible Alou catch.

    Alou yelled at Bartman, then it was all downhill from there. Instead of a possible second-out catch, the Cubs gave up eight runs in the inning. They lost the game, then the series. Cubs Nation credited this incident as the start of the downfall, the reason they lost the series.

    Bartman, a die-hard Cubs fan had to be escorted out by security guards and had to go under police protection after his name and address were made public on MLB message boards. He was seen as Public Enemy No. 1 throughout Chicago and was the butt of plenty of jokes, especially on Saturday Night Live.

    The Illinois governor at the time, Rod Blagojevich, suggested Bartman go into the witness protection program. It got so bad that Bartman offered a public apology and the Cubs offered this press release:

    "The Chicago Cubs would like to thank our fans for their tremendous outpouring of support this year. We are very grateful. We would also like to remind everyone that games are decided by what happens on the playing field — not in the stands. It is inaccurate and unfair to suggest that an individual fan is responsible for the events that transpired in Game 6.

    "He did what every fan who comes to the ballpark tries to do — catch a foul ball in the stands. That's one of the things that makes baseball the special sport that it is. This was an exciting season and we're looking forward to working towards an extended run of October baseball at Wrigley Field."