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List of violent spectator incidents in sports

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


This list of violent spectator incidents in sports includes events in which a spectator at a sporting event was engaged in a violent confrontation with an athlete, coach or game official, either through the spectator's intrusion upon the field of play, or as a result of such an event participant entering the spectator seating area.

It does not include incidents of riots or other violence, often outside the event venue, which did not involve game participants.


  • On May 15, 1915, Detroit Tigers outfielder Ty Cobb assaulted Claude Lueker, a heckler, in the stands of Hilltop Park in New York during a game against the New York Highlanders. Lueker and Cobb traded insults with each other throughout the first three innings, and the situation climaxed when Lueker called Cobb a "half-nigger." Cobb then climbed into the stands and attacked the handicapped Lueker, who due to an industrial accident had lost all of one hand and three fingers on his other hand. When onlookers shouted at Cobb to stop because the man had no hands, Cobb reportedly replied, "I don't care if he has no feet!" The league suspended him indefinitely, and his teammates, though not fond of Cobb, went on strike to protest the suspension prior to the May 18 game against the Philadelphia A's. For that one game, Detroit fielded a replacement team made up of college and sandlot ballplayers, plus two Detroit coaches, and lost, 24-2. The strike ended when Cobb urged his teammates to return to the field. Cobb's suspension lasted for 8 days.



  • On January 6, 1972, St. Louis Blues coach Al Arbour and several players entered the stands to fight fans at the Spectrum in Philadelphia, after Arbour was showered with debris.
  • On December 29, 1972, players from the Philadelphia Flyers entered the stands at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver after a fan reached over the glass and pulled the hair of Don Saleski. Six players were charged with assault and fined $500.



  • June 4, 1974 - "Ten Cent Beer Night" - In one of the most remarkably ill-conceived promotions in Major League Baseball history, fans at Cleveland Municipal Stadium for a Cleveland Indians vs. Texas Rangers game were served as many beers as they wanted for just 10¢ each. After numerous instances of drunken fans throwing debris or running onto the field — "streaking" in many instances — the situation boiled over in the 9th inning when a fan ran onto the field and snatched Rangers outfielder Jeff Burroughs' cap and glove. Burroughs' teammates charged out to his aid, followed by hundreds of rioting Cleveland fans who poured out onto the field.



  • July 12, 1979 - Disco Demolition Night - In a promotion conceived by Chicago DJ Steve Dahl, fans got 98¢ admission to a Comiskey Park doubleheader between the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers in exchange for bringing in a disco record to be blown up between games. Before the "demolition", many fans began throwing their records, as well as fireworks and debris. The between-games explosion tore a large hole into the field and was followed by thousands of spectators pouring in from the stands. Thirty-seven arrests were made and the second game of the doubleheader was forfeited.
  • On December 23, 1979, members of the Boston Bruins leaped over their bench, and fought New York Rangers fans at Madison Square Garden. The incident was made famous by the Bruins' Mike Milbury removing a fan's shoe, and beating him with it.



  • On September 24, 1981, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Reggie Smith jumped into the stands at Candlestick Park after San Francisco Giants fan Michael Dooley threw a batting helmet at him. Smith was ejected and eight fans received citations.



  • December 10, 1989. Fans of the Philadelphia Eagles at Veterans Stadium threw snowballs and beer at Dallas Cowboys players and staff throughought the game as revenge against a "bounty" being placed on the head of their placekicker by Cowboys players during a previous game. see Bounty Bowl II.



  • May 11 - During a home game at Cleveland Stadium, Indians' outfielder Albert Belle threw a ball at a heckling fan and hits him in the chest. Belle receives a six game suspension. [1]



  • On April 30, 1993, tennis star Monica Seles was stabbed by Günter Parche, a Steffi Graf fan, during a changeover at a match in Germany.



  • On January 25, 1995, Manchester United striker Éric Cantona assaulted a fan during a game against Crystal Palace after said fan hurled racial slurs towards him. Cantona was banned for the remainder of the English Premier League season.
  • February 6 - After attacking a heckler who taunted him about his deceased child during a game against the Portland Trailblazers, Houston Rockets' guard Vernon Maxwell is suspended for 10 games and fined $20,000 by the NBA.
  • August 10, 1995 - Dodger Stadium - The Los Angeles Dodgers gave out baseballs to 50,000+ paying customers as they entered the gates. After a few rounds of alcohol and some close umpiring calls, many fans began pelting the field with their souvenir baseballs after Raul Mondesi and manager Tommy Lasorda were ejected in the 9th inning. The game ended up being forfeited to the visiting St. Louis Cardinals [2].
  • On September 28, 1995, Chicago Cubs pitcher Randy Myers was attacked on the mound by a fan at Wrigley Field after giving up a home run. Myers held the fan on the ground until authorities arrested him.
  • On December 17, 1995, Cleveland Browns fans, irate at their teams' impending relocation to Baltimore, tore seats loose and threw them at the field and set small fires throughout Cleveland Municipal Stadium.
  • December 23, 1995 - New York Giants fans threw hundreds of snowballs and chunks of ice at the San Diego Chargers. Fifteen people including Chargers equipment manager Sid Brooks, were injured, fifteen arrests were made, 75 season-ticket holders had their subscriptions cancelled, and 175 fans were ejected from The Meadowlands [3].



  • November 26, 1996, Northlands Coliseum - Calgary Flames forward Sasha Lakovic attempted to climb the glass behind the players bench to get at a drunken Edmonton Oilers fan who poured a beverage on assistant coach Guy Lapointe's head. Lakovic, who was restrained by his teammates, was suspended two games without pay, while the Oilers were fined $20,000 for having inadequate security. [4] The incident was broadcast on The CBC.



  • 1998 - In a CUB Series ODI cricket match between Australia and England at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, unruly behaviour from the crowd, including throwing objects on the field, forced England captain Alec Stewart to call Shane Warne out from the dressing room to settle down his hometown crowd's behaviour.



  • On September 24, 1999, Houston Astros outfielder Billy Spiers was attacked while standing in right field in Milwaukee County Stadium. Spiers suffered slight injuries, and the assailant, Berley W. Visgar, was sentenced to 90 days in jail.
  • November 23, 1999 - After being pelted with heavy, wet snowballs throughout the second half of a game against the Denver Broncos, Charles Woodson of the Oakland Raiders retaliated by throwing a hard snowball back into the crowd, hitting a woman in the face. An arrest warrant was later issued for Woodson. In the same game, Raiders tackle Lincoln Kennedy entered the stands and punched a Broncos fan in the face [5].
  • May 2, 1999 During the deciding league match in the 1998-1999 Scottish football season, Some Celtic fans reacted badly to their team beaten by Rangers. During the 3 - 0 loss at their home ground, groups of Celtic fans invaded the pitch twice and others threw coins at opposition players and officials. The referee was struck on the head and the game was stopped to attend his bloodied wounds. A fan also ran from the top of the 2nd tier of the stand to remonstrate with the officials and fell onto the lower stand.



  • On May 16, 2000, a fan at Wrigley Field in Chicago grabbed the baseball cap off the head of the Los Angeles Dodgers' Chad Kreuter, starting a melee in which Dodgers players including Raul Mondesi, Gary Sheffield, Darren Dreifort, Adrian Beltre, and Todd Hundley entered the stands to fight fans.
  • In June 2000, Dodgers catcher Todd Hundley had food and beer thrown at him all throughout a game at Bank One Ballpark in Phoenix, prompting Dodgers Raul Mondesi, Gary Sheffield, Darren Dreifort, Adrian Beltre, and Hundley to go into the crowd and fight with the fans.



  • On March 29, 2001, Toronto Maple Leafs player Tie Domi and a fan got into a violent scuffle after the enraged fan (after having water shot at another Flyer fan by Domi) broke through the glass into the penalty box at the First Union Center during a game against the Philadelphia Flyers.
  • On September 1, 2001, Geelong Football Club player Darren Milburn executed a very late bump on Carlton Football Club's Steven Silvagni, collecting Silvagni's head with his hip; Silvagni hit the ground unconscious. After being substituted with another player, fans threatened Milburn and attempted to enter the interchange box to assault him, and again attempted to attack him in the car park and after the game.
  • During a December 15, 2001 game versus the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns fans angered by the overturning of a referee's call late in the fourth quarter threw garbage on to the field, including hundreds of plastic beer bottles resulting in a thirty-minute delay. Referees as well as players on both teams were struck by debris [6].



  • On September 19, 2002, Kansas City Royals first base coach Tom Gamboa was violently assaulted by a drunken father and son, William Ligue Jr. and Sr., at Comiskey Park in Chicago.



  • 2 November, 2003 - Manchester United goaltender Fabien Barthez punched a fan who ran onto the pitch towards him during a match against Southampton.
  • In April 2003 in Chicago, in a game between the White Sox and the Kansas City Royals, a fan ran on to the field (mid-play) and tried to tackle umpire Las Diaz. Diaz, who used to be in the Marines, threw the fan to the ground.
  • In October 2003, a grounds crew member at Fenway Park got into an altercation with New York Yankees relief pitcher Jeff Nelson, which resulted in Nelson and Yankees right fielder Karim Garcia jumping the grounds crew member. Charges were pressed later on.



  • On April 26, 2004 at a NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway Jeff Gordon won in a controversial ending where he passed NASCAR's most popular driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the race ended under caution causing fans to throw trash and debris onto the racetrack. Gordon then defiantly performed a victory "doughnut" over the thrown debris. This race then subsequently caused NASCAR to start the green-white-checker finish. [7]
  • On August 29, 2004, during the men's marathon event at the 2004 Summer Olympics, defrocked Irish priest Neil Horan burst out of the crowd to accost race leader Vanderlei de Lima – an action which may have cost de Lima the gold medal, although many observers have noted that he was losing ground to Stefano Baldini of Italy and Mebrahtom Keflezighi of the United States even before the attack, and they likely would have caught him anyway. De Lima ultimately placed third in the race, behind Baldini (who won) and Keflezighi. External link with photo: [8]
  • On September 13, 2004, Texas Rangers pitcher Frank Francisco threw a chair at a fan during the Rangers' game against the Oakland Athletics in Oakland's Network Associates Coliseum, breaking a woman's nose. [9]
  • On November 19, 2004, near the end of an NBA game between the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons, a brawl erupted (a.k.a. The Malice at the Palace), between Pacers players and Pistons supporters.



  • In April 2005, a fan at Fenway Park threw beer into the face of Yankees right fielder Gary Sheffield as he was fielding a ball in play, prompting Sheffield to take a swing at the fan.
  • April 12, 2005 - In the 74th minute of a UEFA Champions League match versus crosstown rivals Inter Milan, A.C. Milan goalkeeper Dida is hit in the shoulder with a flare thrown at him from the crowd. Dida suffers only minor burns but is unable to continue the match. After a 30 minute delay to clear burning flares from the pitch, the match is briefly restarted before another round of debris-throwing forces the cancellation of the match.
  • In November 2005, a ODI cricket match in the Chappell-Hadlee Series between Australia and New Zealand involved members of the New Zealand crowd throwing dangerous objects at Australian players.



  • November 11 - At an FA Cup match between Newport County and Swansea City, fourth official Alan Sheffield is struck in the face with a £1 coin thrown at him from the crowd after Sheffield engaged in a dispute with Newport manager Peter Beadle. [10] The impact severs an artery, and Sheffield is rushed into surgery, requiring seven stitches. It is the most serious of several coin-throwing incidents during the month, with Fulham's Claus Jensen and Arsenal's Robin van Persie also being hit with thrown coins. [11]
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