40 years ago today: A death at Dodger Stadium, and still the only one of its kind at an MLB game


I remember my dad taking me to a Dodgers game, had to be in the very early ’70s, putting me at about 9 years old. We’re sitting in box seats behind home plate, tickets he got from his boss at work. An amazing experience for a kid to see a game.

A foul ball was hit into the stands, and there was a hush over the crowd as ushers came down to tend to the person who might have been injured. Everything seemed OK.

“Did you know that a kid was killed recently by a foul ball?” someone leaned over to tell my dad.

I heard it, but I couldn’t believe that was true. It was something that I couldn’t get out of my mind.


Consider that in the course of a typical major-league baseball game, about 40 balls are hit into the stands — foul balls, mostly. Fans with or without gloves try to catch them. Most bounce off something before landing in the hands of a lucky spectator.

Added up over the weeks, months and years of games, the millions of balls hit into the stands has resulted in only one fatality at big-league contest.


Yet, it was 40 years ago today — on May 16, 1970, a Saturday night — in the bottom of the third inning of a Dodgers-Giants game at Dodger Stadium.

Maury Wills led off with a double. Manny Mota followed. He sprayed a foul ball off into the crowd along the first-base line, near the visitor’s dugout, off Giants pitcher Gaylord Perry.

Sitting in the second row was Alan Fish, a 14-year-old from L.A.

David Schur was an assistant playground director at the Poinsettia Park Rec Center, near Santa Monica and La Brea, close to West Hollywood and just a couple of blocks from the famed Formosa Cafe. He took seven boys from the neighborhood to the game, including Alan and his 10-year-old brother, Stuart.

Alan, who pitched for the Poinsettia Little Major League team, was a straight-A student at Bancroft Junior High.

But he didn’t see the ball that Mota hit foul. Almost no one did. It hit Alan Fish in the left temple on the side of his head.

“The ball came out of nowhere very fast,” Schur told the Los Angeles Times.

Alan said he was fine at first. His coach took him to the Dodgers’ first-aid station. They gave him two asprins. The group went back to their seats.

Schur drove the boys home — Alan and Stuart lived on Fountain Avenue in L.A., just a couple blocks south of Sunset Blvd. But Alan’s step-father, Frank Scialo, noticed that Alan’s condition didn’t seem to get any better. Alan got disoriented and started walking in circles. It was worse than what a typical concussion looked like.

Francine Scialo took her son to the emergency room at Citizens Hospital, and then to Children’s Hospital that night. He stayed overnight. And another night. And another.


Alan Fish died four days later, on a Wednesday afternoon, of a head injury that was deemed inoperable.

According to the records in the last 150 years, Alan Fish is still the only fan to ever be struck by a ball hit into the stands at a major-league park and die.


The game that Saturday night went on without much incident (linked here). Mota grounded out moments later after his foul ball. He made the last out, striking out against Frank Reberger to end the Dodgers’ 5-4 loss.

The day that Alan Fish died, the Dodgers played a night game in San Diego, a 10-4 loss. The team issued a statement: “The entire Dodger organziation joins in the members of the family of Alan Fish in their sorrow. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.”

Mota didn’t seem to really recovered from it. His batting average fell. He sat out a few games, on Walter Alston’s orders.

Today, Mota may talk about it, but not very much. He still feels heavy guilt. He tried to visit Alan Fish in the hospital, but he was barred from entering the room.

Fish’s parents — including his father, Marvin Fish – brought a lawsuit against the team and the doctor. A jury absolved the team of blame three years after the incident.

According to research by Sports Illustrated’s S.L. Price last year, for a story and book he did on the 2007 death of Arkansas Travelers third base coach Mike Coolbaugh, who was hit by a foul ball during a minor-league game, 52 spectators are known to have been killed by foul balls since 1887. But only two occured in professional games.

In 1960, Dominic LaSala, 68, died after he was hit by a foul ball at a Triple-A game in Miami.

Ten years later, it was Alan Fish, at Dodger Stadium.



In the 2008 book, “Death at the Ballpark: A Comprehensive Study of Game-Related Fatalities, 1862-2007″ (McFarland publishing, 264 pages, official website linked here) by Robert Gorman and David Weeks, there’s mention of another MLB-game-related death. On September. 30, 1943, 32-year-old Clarence Stagemyer was killed at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C., sitting in the stands behind first base when a wild throw by Washington Senators third baseman Serry Robertson hit him during a night game against the Cleveland Indians.

The Mota-Fish story is included in the book. Also there: Mota’s own teenage nephew, Adriano Martinez, would be killed on the field 14 years later, while playing shortstop in New York, after he was struck by lightning.

Estimates are that more than 300 people are injured every year after being hit with a foul ball enough to get medical help. This doesn’t even take into account the latest peril to a fan — a sharred maple bat flying into the stands.

Gorman said in a recent email that since the book’s publishing, he and Weeks have uncovered about 350 additional game-related fatalities — mostly players.

“Surprisingly, none if these newly-discovered incidents involved fans dying from foul balls,” Gorman said.

Who’s responsible?

Read the 145-word warning on the back of each ticket. Fans assume “the danger of being injured by thrown bats, fragments thereof, and thrown or batted balls.”

Does that make a death 40 years ago any easier to understand?

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

More on cruising through ‘Lasordapalooza’


Some more on the Lasordapalooza display at the Pomona Public Library that we visited in today’s column (linked here), and included a winning art entry by Greg Jezewski of Los Angeles – Tommy Lasorda kneeling at the gates of heaven being denied entrance and sent to a fiery resolution.

Because God is a Giants’ fan.

“And I’m a Giants fan,” Jezewski admits.

Jezewski explained that the piece is inspired by Rene Magritte, the Belgian surrealist artist known in the pop culture circles for his juxtaposition of ordinary objects in an unusual context.

The words, “Leci n’est pas une picket” are a spin off of Magritte’s “Leci n’est paus une pipe,” which means, “This is not a pipe,” but it is a picture of a pipe.

Get it?

“This means ‘This is not a pitcher,’” says Jezewski. “Or it could mean ‘picture.’ I like the dual meaning.”


There’s a triptych piece in oil by Michael Guccione, inspired by Lasorda’s famous tirade about Dave Kingman’s three-home run afternoon against the Dodgers after he was asked his opinion by radio reporter Paul Olden.

The middle piece depicts Kingman dreaming someday of Lasorda begin embarassed in an All-Star Game – which he was, spun onto his backside by a foul ball.

“The third pannel shows a Paul Olden dream through the eyes of Lasorda on a visit to his protologist,” Guccione said.

How languid.

And yes, there were things a little more, ahem, brutal about Lasorda in this exhibit.

Things that seem to take things a bit too personal down the road of parenthood and making judgements that do not necessarily seem fair. I’ll defend their right to free speech, but that comes with some caviats.


And this piece by Mary Cannon, “Tommy: The Sacred and Profane,” with a tray of Catholic communion waifers that contain snippets of the words used to tell the stories of Lasorda raised money by losing weight on Slim-Fast to help Sisters of Mercy in Philadephia, and how he went off on a foul-language rant once against Kingman.

There could be some who claim this is sacreligious.

But that, again, is art’s purpose. To get one to think, react, feel it.

Tommy Lasorda, on any level, emits feelings. That’s what this display, and this day in the library, painfully showed.

== More upcoming events by the Baseball Reliquary:

= June 2-30 at the South Pasadena Public Library (1100 Oxley St., South Pasadena, 626.791.7647) is “Son of Cardboard Fetish,” a continuing celebration of baseball cards. Josh Wilker, who just wrote “Cardboard Gods: An All-American Tale Told through Baseball Cards,” will be appearing Thursday, June 10 for a book signing at the South Pasadena Public Library community Room (1115 El Centro Street, So Pasadena).

= Sunday, July 18, 2 p.m.: The Shrine of the Eternals 2010 induction, for Pete Rose, Roger Angell and Casey Stengel at the Pasadena Central Library (285 E. Walnut Street, Pasadena.

= July 6-30: The Shrine of the Ternals: 33 & Counting exhibit at the Pasadena Central Library.

= Saturday, Sept. 18: A panel discussion on the 40th anniversary of the issue of Jim Bouton’s book, “Ball Four,” with Bouton present. Info to come.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Reply

Ruggiero: Back living in SoCal, open to playing in 2014 Olympics


Simi Valley native Angela Ruggiero, who has played for the women’s U.S. hockey team in all four Olympics that the sport has been offered, says she’s not closed any doors to playing in the next Winter Games in 2014, but it will take some work.

Ruggiero, in a Q-and-A with the Detroit Free Press (linked here), also says she played in the recent Winter Games, where the U.S. team finished with a silver medal after losing in the final to Canada, with a torn labrum and had surgery last month.

“I’ve actually had it for 10 years,” she said. “I’ve never had the opportunity to take three months off, and it’s a six-month full recovery. It affected me a little bit, but not enough to keep me from playing or competing. I’m doing rehab right now.”

Ruggiero returned to Michigan this week for the first time since the Winter Olympics to speak to the student body at Anchor Bay High in Fair Haven, where her sister, Pam, teaches biology.

The story says that Ruggiero, who moved from Simi Valley to Michigan as a teenager,
recently took up residence in Marina Del Rey.

“I have extended family there. I wanted to take advantage of the warmth, and I trained there last summer. There’s a ton of job opportunities out there, as well, in sports marketing, sports broadcasting and just the sports-business side.”

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Why Steve Kerr doesn’t worry about that TV gig any more


By Bob Baum
The Associated Press

Not long ago, Steve Kerr would spend sleepless nights recalling how great that NBA analyst job was at TNT.

Phoenix Suns fans vilified him as a general manager without a clue, a man who had ruined the franchise.

“There were many nights where I thought, ‘Man, I should have just sat there with a microphone in my hand,’” he said. “‘It was a much better life.’”

Not that Kerr blamed the fans.

“I deserved the criticism,” he said. “You kind of have to know what you’re getting into in this business, and I didn’t do a very good job last year.”

Fast-forward to Kerr watching the Suns practice in preparation for the Western Conference finals against the reigning NBA champion Lakers.

“This is exactly what I envisioned,” he said. “We just took a strange route to get here.”

Kerr had no front office experience when Suns owner Robert Sarver named him general manager in June 2007. He had spent the previous four years as color commentator for NBA games on TNT.

But he did have 15 years in the NBA, five with championship teams, after a standout career at the University of Arizona.

Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Your Lighting bolts return


The defending champion Los Angeles Lightning open their home schedule at Cal Lutheran’s Gilbert Arena on Saturday at 7:15 p.m. against the Oregon Waves in a rematch of last season’s International Basketball League finals.

Sunday, the teams go to Santa Barbara City College for a live 3 p.m. TV game on KKFX/Fox 11.

“This is a great opportunity to showcase our talent and expand our product,” said Lightning owner Mark Harwell. “It’s a rare treat for fans to get a chance to meet NBA and international players.”

The Lightning games can also be heard on KKZZ-AM (1400) with Eric Evelhoch and Rob Lemons. It’s also streaming on the team’s web site, www.lalightning.net.

The Lighting, 18-5 a year ago, are off to a 2-0 start after winning twice over the Nevada Pride in Las Vegas. Phil Givens scored 25 points in a 143-97 season-opening rout, while the Lightning got help from Trayvon Lathan (32 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists) and 6-foot-11 center Chris Ayer (29 points, 8 rebounds) to win 140-125 the next night.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Some of Lenny D’s stuff: $3,200


A posting on CraigsList.com (linked here):

Im selling a beautifully Framed & Matted piece of Basaeball History! This is an opportunity to own & have signed personally by Lenny Dykstra himself. This glass framed picture has multiple pictures of lenny throughout his career. He is a 3 time All Star and a member of the 1986 World Champion Met’s team .If you purchase this item you will also receive a personal phone call from him. This is a once of a lifetime deal for one lucky soul!

You want Lenny calling you, to verify the authenticity? Would that count against his one call from white-collar prison for the day?

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Are Dodgers dogging the pastrami concession? We know someone who’s steamed about it


Gary Canter went to a game at Dodger Stadium on a recent Friday night and ran into a small problem.

“I wanted a pastrami sandwich, but I couldn’t get one,” he said.

That’s a mouthful, since Gary owns Canter’s Deli.

They have a concession stand on the field level near third base — a beautiful new facility added in 2008.

But come to find out, Levy Restaurants, which runs all the food-stuff at the stadium, has decided not to open that stand when attendance is down on that area of the park.


On the night Gary attended, he said the announced crowd was about 40,000, but he could tell that was a bit of an exaggeration. That tends to happen around Chavez Ravine.

What he’s not exaggerating about his frustration in a) finding one of his sandwiches and b) trying to get someone to develop a backup plan.

“There was an article in the New York Times recently that said, if you go to a Dodger game, have the Canter’s Fairfax sandwich (pastrami and corned beef), but not the Dodger Dog,” Gary said. “We’ve been trimming them beautifully. They’re coming out great. But where do you find them when they close the thing up?”

It’s not as if Gary can’t complain to those in charge. Dodgers CEO Dennis Manion called him the other day to bring lunch to his office. Gary says Dodgers GM Ned Colletti “is one of my best buddies.” Dodgers manager Joe Torre was at his iconic restaurant on Fairfax on Thursday night after a trip to the Hollywood Bowl.

“I see the seats empty in front (of the Canter’s stand at the stadium) so there’s not that much business,” Gary admits. “I know they raised the prices (on seats in that area). But we can do something about it. I can grill pastrami on any of the grills around there, put them in a long hot-dog bun, give ‘em to some hot gals and sell ‘em thoughout the stadium?”

As long as they’re hot. The sandwiches, more than the sales women.

“Why can’t we give the fans good food?” Gary asks.

We put in a call to Levy’s. We’re waiting to hear. Like waiting in line at one of their stands.

(Swear to whomever, I went to a game on Mother’s Day and got in line to get mom a dog at about 12:45 p.m. The stand was about 20 feet behind my seat. I didn’t get back to my seat until well after the first pitch, at 1:10 p.m. I gave the lady behind the counter — she was so small and slow, she couldn’t reach into the container to get any of the dogs out — a $100 bill in hoping I could break it for change. She handed me a $50 bill as change.)

A Canter’s corned beef or pastrami sandwich goes for $11 at the stadium. The Canter’s Fairfax special — corned beef and pastrami — is $11.50. The Hebrew National dog is $6.25, less than a buck more than the grilled Dodger Dog, but probably much more digestable.

If you go to Canter’s at Treasure Island in Las Vegas, you can get the Gary Canter’s Special: Pastrami, corned beef, turkey, ham and swiss, with cole slaw or potato salad: $15.95.

If you go to Dodger Stadium, you risk getting a confused look from the usually gregarious Gary Canter.

“I don’t know what the problem is,” Gary said. “I understand Levy is doing their job, but what they don’t understand is that they are depriving Dodger fans from enjoying a great pastrami or corned beef sandwich.”

And Gary, it’s OK to talk with your mouth full.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Marion Jones to Cheryl Miller: I got a text asking if I wanted to play in the WNBA. … My response: LOL

The former Thousand Oaks High star, now 34 years old and after giving birth to three kids — oh, and that steroid issue — talks to the former USC star, working for NBA TV and TNT, about this comeback as a WNBA player:

Not once in 7 minutes, 22 seconds does the word “steroid” come up.

Prior to tipping off coverage of the WNBA’s 14th season, NBA TV has a WNBA Preview Show today at 6 p.m. hosted by current Charlotte Bobcats sideline reporter Stephanie Ready and former WNBA head coach and NBA great Rick Mahorn. The show will include a longer-form interview between Jones and Miller.

Also, starting with the Sparks-Mercury telecast on ESPN2 (Saturday, 11 a.m.), this is the first time all 204 WNBA games are accessable through either NBA TV, ESPN2, ESPN3.com and WNBA.com.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

The Media Learning Curve: Take a stand … even if it’s wrong


“You can’t have a re-vote every time something doesn’t go the way you want it to,” protested Tom Curran of Comcast Sportsnet, on the website ProFootballTalk.com, when the subject of this second tabulation for the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, which we discussed in more depth in today’s media column (linked here)

“The AP didn’t have to make a mockery of its awards process by giving everyone a mulligan.”

But this was no mockery. Actually, it seems to mock those who still don’t get it. Like Cullen.

So we move forward, taking another look at the mistakes we’ve made in the past, wondering if it’s too late to fix them:


== In addition to information about the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism offering a sports media minor this fall, led by Dan Durbin, a professor who specializes in sports media and pop culture, here’s a story about it in the Daily Trojan (linked here) and a USC link to more information (linked here).

“First, it is largely a response to student interest in the subject, from many different sources,” Dean Ernest J. Wilson III said. “Also, because we are linking sports, media and social change, we will be able to look at how sports affects society, and society affects sports. We will do so in a rigorous and scholarly way. We think this will interest students in many fields.”

== Jay Posner of the San Diego Union Trib has Scully on Enberg, and Enberg on Scully, as the two meet in San Diego this weekend for a Dodgers-Padres series (linked here)

== For those Seattle Mariners who are freezing out Tacoma News Tribune reporter Larry LaRue, grow up (linked here).

== NBC takes Game 1 of the NHL’s Western Conference finals (Sunday, noon, Channel 4) when San Jose hosts Chicago. Doc Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire call it. Not surprisingly, this is San Jose’s first appearance on NBC this season. Chicago has been on four previous times.

== Congrats to Cleveland Cavs play-by-play man Joe Tait and Boston Globe writer Jackie MacMullan for their selection to received the 2010 Curt Gowdy Media Award from the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame during enshrinement ceremones Aug. 12-13 in Springfield, Mass. MacMullan, who also wastes her time on ESPN’s “Around the Horn,” is the first female reporter to receive the honor.

== Fox Soccer Channel has The FA Cup Final from London’s Wembley Stadium on Saturday as Chelsea squares off against Portsmouth, starting at 6 a.m. with the one-hour pregame.

== Fox sends Houston-San Francisco (Roy Oswalt vs. Tim Lincecum) to the L.A. market (25 percent of the country) with Chris Rose and Eric Karros on Saturday (Channel 11, 1 p.m.), while the rest get Philadelphia-Milwaukee (57 percent, with Tom McCarthy and Mark Grace) and Seattle-Tampa Bay (17 percent, with Kenny Albert and Tim McCarver).

== MLB Network will have Matt Vasgersian, Harold Reynolds and Barry Larkin call the St. Louis-Cincinnati game on Saturday at 4 p.m. as part of the 2010 Civil Rights Game weekend.

== Terry Gannon and Carolyn Peck call Saturday’s Sparks-Phoenix Mercury WNBA opener (11 a.m., ESPN2), the first of 18 regular-season broadcasts on the network. Playoffs starting in late August will be on ABC and ESPN2. Pam Ward and Dave Pasch will also do play-by-play along with Peck and Rebecca Lobo. The Sparks will make as many appearances — six — as the defending-champion Mercury. The schedule also includes Phoenix playing at Tulsa on May 25 and the Sparks at Tulsa on July 13 — Tulsa is coached by Nolan Richardson and the roster includes former Thousand Oaks High star Marion Jones.

== If Phil Mickelson using the media to help him promote with a new burger franchise in Orange County? (linked here)

== Michael Phelps’ participation in the Charlotte UltraSwim Grand Prix this weekend has full coverage on Universal Sports, starting today at 3 p.m. Ted Robinson and Rowdy Gaines report.

== Is it possible to cover five golf tournaments in one weekend. Yes, if you’re Golf Channel.

The PGA’s Texas Open continues noon to 3 p.m. today with Kelly Tilghman, Peter Oosterhuis, Mark Lye, Matt Gogel and Billy Ray Brown (and then moves to CBS for the weekend). The LPGA’s Bell Micro Classic in Mobile, Ala., picks up on Friday, tape delayed at 9 p.m. as well as live on Saturday and Sunday from 1-3 p.m. with Tom Abbott and Judy Rankin; at the BMW Charity Pro-Am Nationwide Tour event with celebs and amateurs in South Carolina, live coverage continues today (9:30 a.m.) as well as Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m. with Jerry Foltz and John Maginnes (plus Jerry Rice is competing as a pro this week — he shot a miserable 92 in the first round); the Champions Tour Regions Charity Classic in Hoover, Ala., continues on tape delayed today (3:30 p.m.), Saturday (3:30 p.m.) and Sunday (4 p.m.) with Brian Hammons and Curt Byrum; and the Iberola Open Cala Millor Mallorca in Spain continues live today (6:30 a.m.) and Saturday and Sunday (5:30 to 8:30 a.m.).

== NBC’s coverage of the Preakness on Saturday starts at 1:30 p.m., with the race expected to go off at about 3:15 p.m. in Baltimore. Tom Hammond and Bob Costas are joined again by Gary Stevens, race caller Tom Durkin, handicappers Mike Battaglia and Bob Neumeier; reporter Kenny Rice and on-track reporter Donna Brothers. Battaglia on whether Super Saver, the Kentucky Derby winner, can pull off the Triple Crown: “I think he can win the Preakness but the Belmont is a whole other cup of tea. If he wins the Preakness then he’s got Nick Zito sitting there waiting with Ice Box (for the Belmont). If you look at that race, Ice Box may have been best at the Derby.” Adds Neumeier: “I’d be surprised if Super Saver can win the Triple Crown even if he wins the Preakness.”



== On ESPN’s “Outside The Lines” this weekend (Sunday, 6 a.m., ESPN), former Boston Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Bernie Carbo admits he tried to pay someone to break the arms of former teammate Keith Hernandez. Hernandez testified Sept. 6, 1985 in Pittsburgh that Carbo had introduced him to cocaine, Carbo reacted by trying to injure Hernandez.

“I knew some people, and I had $2,000, and I asked them to break his arms,” Carbo tells ESPN’s Mark Schwarz. “He said, ‘We’ll do it in two or three years if you want it done, but we’re not going to do it today, Bernie. If we went and broke his legs today, or broke his arms, you don’t think they would understand that you are the one that had it done?’”

Carbo, now 62, tells Schwarz that in one respect, there was no difference between his momentous home run in the 1975 World Series Game 6 and more than 1,000 other games he played in the major leagues: He was high on drugs. He says he’s been clean and sober for 16 years and would apologize to Hernandez for introducing him to cocaine.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Missouri won’t take the high road on Mark McGwire Highway


The Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Barry Bonds bested his home run record. Now Mark McGwire is poised to lose his highway fame to Mark Twain.

Missouri lawmakers gave final approval Thursday to legislation that would rename the “Mark McGwire Highway” in St. Louis for the Missouri author known as Mark Twain. The bill needs only the signature of Gov. Jay Nixon to become law.

Missouri named a stretch of Interstate 70 in St. Louis for McGwire in 1999, one year after the Cardinals slugger hit 70 home runs. Bonds broke McGwire’s single-season home run record in 2001.

McGwire currently is the hitting coach for the Cardinals. A movement to strip his name from the highway had been simmering for several years, but it gained momentum after McGwire recently admitted he used steroids as a player.

HB1643 (linked here) also names nine other Missouri highways, including a stretch of U.S. 24 in Independence for former President Harry Truman.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email