Attack overshadows Royals' rally for 11th win

CHICAGO (AP) -- First base umpire Laz Diaz turned to watch a fly

ball that was hit along the right-field line. A split-second later,

a fan was grabbing him around the waist.

The attorney for the fan who attacked Laz Diaz said his client's stunt was alcohol-motivated.
The attorney for the fan who attacked Laz Diaz said his client's stunt was alcohol-motivated.

Just seven months after Kansas City coach Tom Gamboa was

assaulted by a father and son who'd run on the same field, another

fan at the Chicago White Sox's home park was shockingly attacking


The fan entered the field not far from where Gamboa had been

surprised and then pummeled in the first base coach's box last


"We spoke about it in the locker room, this is where Tom Gamboa

got attacked. We thought nothing was going to happen, but it was a

full moon out there," Diaz said.

"He just grabbed me by my waist and that's when I turned him

around and got him down ... and everybody jumped on him."

Known as Comiskey Park when Gamboa was attacked, the facility is

now called U.S. Cellular Field after a $68 million naming rights

deal was reached before the season.

As the host for this July's All-Star Game, the stadium has

already undergone a major sprucing up. Now it has a black eye, its

safety record questioned by yet another ugly incident at a

Royals-White Sox game.

"As a major league baseball player, you shouldn't have to worry

about your health on the baseball field from the fans," Kansas

City star Mike Sweeney said. "When they come on the field to do

harm, that's when it gets scary."

Immediately after Carlos Lee flied out to end Chicago's eighth

inning, a man ran on the field and tried to tackle Diaz.

Security and players rushed to the aid of the 40-year-old Diaz,

who served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. The fan was quickly

taken away and Diaz, who was not hurt, finished the game.

"When I looked over, there was one of the fans from the stands

and I just got him off me," Diaz said. "I just turned around and

got him off me. The good hand-to-hand combat they taught me


Police spokesman Wayne Frisbie said investigators wanted to talk

with Diaz before deciding whether to file charges against the man.

He remained in police custody Wednesday.

Frisbie said the man, who has not been identified, was treated

for minor injuries at St. Anthony's Hospital in Chicago.

According to Chicago Police spokeswoman Officer Alice Casanova, police are leaning toward a charge of aggravated battery, a felony, but that must be approved by the prosecutor's office. The fan's name will not be released until he is formally charged.

Several Royals players could be seen kicking and stomping the

fan while he was pinned down. When the attacker was put into a

police car, his head was wrapped with a white bandage, soaked with

blood near the right temple.

Royals right fielder Brandon Berger, who caught the ball for the

final out of the inning, was one of the first to reach Diaz.

"You catch the ball, you look down and a guy's getting tackled

and it's like, 'What's going on?' " Berger said.

Eerily, it was the first appearance by the Royals in Chicago

since Gamboa, then Kansas City's first base coach, was attacked

last Sept. 19

Now the Royals' bullpen coach, Gamboa said he thought security

was tighter for his team's return. He felt safe -- at least before

the game.

"Oh yeah, the assistant to major league security was at the

game tonight. He told me before the game that they had beefed up

the security, but the fans will always outnumber the security

force, so there is only so much they can do," Gamboa said.

"I think people just have too much to drink," he added.

Kevin Hallinan, baseball's security head, was in San Francisco

when he learned of the attack. He was on his way to Chicago to


"I'm going to be meeting with all concerned," he said. "I

spoke with Diaz and he did say he thought security got out there in

a hurry."

And the attack on Diaz wasn't the only incident involving rowdy

spectators. It was just the most brazen.

Earlier, Tuesday night's game was delayed three times when fans

ran onto the field before being tackled by security guards. All

three were charged with trespassing, the White Sox said.

"The fans just seem to be getting on the field way too easy," Royals third baseman Joe Randa told ESPN Radio. "Guys are getting paranoid and are starting to look over their shoulders. One of the [fans] ran right by me ... I didn't know if he was coming after me or what.

"I don't know if it's the alcohol or if [fans] just want to be on TV. It's got to stop. Unless something gets done here, I can guarantee we're not going to step out on that field again."

Frisbie said all three were charged with misdemeanor criminal

trespass to land. He identified them as Jeffrey Adams, 25; Albert

Skutnik, 25; and Tom Skutnik, 20, all of Chicago.

"I don't know how it is when other teams are in town, but it

seems like every time we are here, something crazy happens,"

Sweeney said. "Maybe they should bring more police in or put up

some high fences so fans don't get on the field."

The White Sox said it was the actions of a few who don't

represent their true fans.

"The behavior of four people attending tonight's game was

reprehensible and will not be tolerated," the team said in a

statement. "They will be prosecuted to the fullest extent the law


The 55-year-old Gamboa still has minor hearing loss in his

right ear from last year's attack.

The boy, 15 at the time, was sentenced to five years of

probation and also ordered to undergo mandatory counseling and

perform 30 hours of community service.

He was arrested along with his father, William Ligue Jr., who

initially pleaded innocent to charges of aggravated battery and mob

action. The case is still pending.

After the attack on Diaz, the Royals scored four runs in the top

of the ninth for an 8-5 win -- their 11th victory in 12 games.

Sweeney hit a two-run homer to put the Royals ahead. Albie Lopez

(2-0) won and Billy Koch (1-1) lost after blowing the save.

The benches emptied in the first when Miguel Asencio hit

Chicago's Frank Thomas with a pitch for the second time this

season. No punches were thrown.

Thomas homered in the eighth to give the White Sox a 5-4 lead.