Fiancee defends man after swipe-shove at Fenway

BOSTON -- The fiancee of the Red Sox fan shoved by Gary Sheffield during Thursday night's game at Fenway Park came to her husband-to-be's defense, saying he had no intention of interfering with the play.

The fan, Chris House of Dorchester, Mass., took what appeared to be a swipe at Sheffield as the right fielder was trying to make a play on a ball hit into the corner by Jason Varitek in the eighth inning of Boston's 8-5 win over New York.

"He would never do that," Jodi Ingerbritson told the Boston Herald.

Replays were shown continually on networks Friday morning.

As Sheffield followed Varitek's roller, he appeared to come into contact with House. Judging from replays, House appeared to reach over the low wall in an attempt to get the ball. At worst, he appeared to interfere with Sheffield's attempt to field the ball.

"He just said he was going for the ball," Ingerbritson told the Herald, in defense of House.

Sheffield turned and shoved House before throwing the ball back to the infield. Then he whirled around with a cocked fist, but restrained himself and began shouting in House's face.

A security official quickly jumped between the two. House was escorted by security out of Fenway but wasn't arrested following the incident.

Ingerbritson said she spoke to her fiance shortly after the incident and, according to her, he said he never made contact with Sheffield. Sheffield told reporters after the game that "something hit me in the mouth. It felt like a hand. I thought my lip was busted."

"He's been a season ticket-holder for a lot of years and he's always careful not to interfere with the ball," Ingerbritson told the Herald.

House refused to elaborate.

"I'm not going to say anything till [Friday]," he was quoted as saying.

Asked what he was thinking when he restrained himself, Sheffield mentioned Ron Artest. The Indiana Pacers player rushed into the stands during an NBA game last November, beating a man he thought had doused him with beer. Five players, including Artest, and seven fans were charged in the ensuing melee, and Artest was suspended
for the rest of the season.

At least one fan outside Fenway came to House's defense.

"All he [the fan] was doing was reaching down to catch the ball," said 16-year-old Rachel Amaral.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.