The fan in Philadelphia whom Nyjer Morgan hit in the head Aug. 21 in the outfield seats of Citizens Bank Park says the Nationals outfielder was being heckled before making the toss after he had finished his warm-up throws between innings.
The man, whom The Philadelphia Inquirer reported to be 37 years old and from Lansdale, Pa., 25 miles north of Philadelphia, told the newspaper he was shocked in the moments after the incident and taken aback when he learned baseball had determined the toss was purposeful.
"I still have a slight lump and some mild pain," the fan, who requested anonymity, told The Inquirer. "I got hit in the left temple. .... My head was turned, watching the outfield screen. I never saw it coming. .. There was no play going on, and it was between innings, so it's not something I really expected. I had no idea what had happened and was pretty dazed afterward."
Major League Baseball has suspended Morgan for seven games for deliberately throwing a baseball into the stands in the Nationals' 8-1 win over the Phillies. He has appealed the penalty, imposed Wednesday, and will be able to play until the appeal process is complete.
"I was told by several people that the throw appeared to be intentional," he said. "When I got hit in the side of the head, several people jumped up and screamed at Mr. Morgan. When he appeared to laugh it off, several more people in the section started a [profane] chant at which point [Morgan] turned around.
"At the end of the game, when he made the third-out catch, he motioned up into the stands where the heckler was as if he was going to toss the ball. At that point, no less than a dozen people came over and expressed their view that [the ball-throwing incident] was intentional and that I was taking it way too calmly."
MLB's findings were a result of complaints from fans at the game and security reports, The Inquirer reported, citing a baseball source. Morgan also was fined an undisclosed amount.
The fan told the newspaper his seat was nine rows back in left-center field, where he said other fans were harassing Morgan.
"There were one or two guys in Section 148 that were riding him pretty hard for a couple of innings," the fan said. "Mostly they seemed to be heckling him about the way he wore his uniform. He was the only player on the field who was wearing his [uniform] old-style with the full stockings. They were screaming at him about looking like a jockey. ... Stuff like that."
An usher addressed the situation, telling the fans to "tone it down."
"There were some inferences that suggested his pose was a little less than masculine," the fan told The Inquirer. "I didn't hear any of what he said back to the heckler, and I started to tune the whole thing out after a while."
The fan said an usher attended to him promptly after he was hit.
"He checked me out a couple of times and was great," the fan said.
The fan said neither the Nationals, Morgan nor Major League Baseball has contacted him since the incident.
The Inquirer reported a message left with the Nationals went unreturned.
"I am not pressing any charges or filing suit against Mr. Morgan or the Nationals organization, nor do I harbor any animosity toward him," the fan said. "I was very surprised by the suspension. Obviously, MLB is taking it very seriously. I wish him luck with the appeal."
The fan said he was perturbed by inaccurate reports that followed the announcement of Morgan's suspension.
"I just got an e-mail from a friend of a friend at WIP stating that some 'witness' called in and claimed that I was a drunk-and-disorderly heckler and sensationalized the whole scene," he said. "All news to me, my wife, and brother-in-law, who were just sitting there quietly. It's just getting crazy, and I'm not even remotely interested in the attention."
Morgan briefly spoke with reporters on Wednesday, but he said he couldn't talk about the specifics of the incident. He did say he hadn't been expecting a suspension.
"I've just got to wait for my appeals process," Morgan said. "This is brand-new news to me."
Washington manager Jim Riggleman said he didn't know what had led to the disciplinary action.
"Today was the first I heard about it," Riggleman said. "Right before game time it was brought to my attention there was an issue there."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.