Gamboa, former Royals coach who was attacked by fans, says ‘penalties aren’t stringent enough’

In two separate incidents the past few days, fans went on the field at Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia. The first incident led to a 17-year-old boy being subdued by Taser, while the second fan was detained without use of weapons.

The events in Philadelphia have led to a new round of questions about how to ensure the safety of fans, players, umpires, and coaches. One man intimately aware of the need to keep fans in the stands and off the field is Tom Gamboa, best known as the Kansas City Royals first base coach who was attacked by two fans during a game in Chicago in 2002. Gamboa joined Into the Night with Tony Bruno to talk about the issue. To listen to the interview, go to Sports Radio Interviews.

A 17-year-old boy was subdued by Taser at a Philadelphia Phillies game on May 3, 2010.
A 17-year-old boy was subdued by Taser at a Philadelphia Phillies game on May 3, 2010.

What does Gamboa think about the fans running on the field in Philadelphia?

Gamboa: I’m on a golf vacation and didn’t know anything about this. I hadn’t seen TV or heard radio until at the golf course today, a sports radio guy came up and he filled me in on what happened. And then only just prior to your show did your producer tell me what happened tonight, and I just cringed when I heard that because that is so reminiscent of my situation, when I was in Chicago in ’02.

The next time we went to Chicago in April of ’03, there were tons of security people, and I said to the security director, "What is all this for?" And they said, "Well, because your team is back in town, and the last time you were here, the incident occurred." And I laughed and said, "Gee, did they really think lightning was going to strike twice?"

And there were actually three incidents in one game of people copycatting, and the third one was where the guy tried to tackle the first base umpire. So it’s a shame, I just wish the fans would understand their only place is in the stands, and never any reason on the field of play to take away from the enjoyment of what everyone is there for, which is the competition on the field. But it just seems like we’re in a society where people are looking for any kind of what they think is fame or infamy at any cost. And once somebody does it, then you got people jumping on the bandwagon trying to be copycats. It’s really a shame.

What is Gamboa’s opinion on harsher penalties for fans going on the field?

Gamboa: Certainly, after my attack, Major League Baseball did a great job of really coming up. You look at every stadium now, they’ve got guys sitting back to back near the dugout, and down both lines, and the ushers between innings will come down right near the rail to act as a detriment for people to do this.

But you’re right, if there’s 40 or 50,000 fans, they’re always going to outnumber the ushers and the security people. So it’s virtually impossible to keep ’em, and I wish I had an answer for it. But I agree with you wholeheartedly, the penalties are not stringent enough.

My God, in my case the guy was given probation, and after violating it on four more occasions, the judge continued to give him probation because he said we had to understand this guy had an alcohol and a drug problem. I mean, it just seems to me like society makes excuses for people’s behavior rather than the more stringent thing of holding people accountable for their actions. And maybe a stiffer first offense, some mandatory time – whether it’s a week or 30 days, I don’t have the answer – but some time incarcerated to deter other people from following suit.

What did Gamboa take away from the 2002 incident, when he was attacked by a father and son on the field?

Gamboa: My only question in court was, "Why me?" The thing that I got was, "We were on drugs when we got to the park, then we drank beer throughout the game, and then we made a decision to get attention so when we got on the field, you were the closest one to us and your back was turned, so you were an easy target."
So, basically I was just at the right place doing my job at the wrong time with these two wackos. But having to coach third base with the Cubs prior to my tenure with the Royals, I can tell you, I loved going into Philadelphia. Like Chicago, they are die hard fans that support their team, and there’s an electricity in the ballpark there. I would hate to see, like I said about Chicago, I would hate to see Philly get a bad rap because of a couple of stupid people doing a bad act, because it doesn’t reflect to me, the city or the sports fans that they have. And I hope that gets across as this story goes around.

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In two separate incidents the past few days, fans went on the field at Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia. The first incident led to a 17-year-old boy being subdued by Taser, while the second fan was detained without use of weapons.

The events in Philadelphia have led to a new round of questions about how to ensure the safety of fans, players, umpires, and coaches. One man intimately aware of the need to keep fans in the stands and off the field is Tom Gamboa, best known as the Kansas City Royals first base coach who was attacked by two fans during a game in Chicago in 2002. Gamboa joined Into the Night with Tony Bruno to talk about the issue. To listen to the interview, go to Sports Radio Interviews.

A 17-year-old boy was subdued by Taser at a Philadelphia Phillies game on May 3, 2010.
A 17-year-old boy was subdued by Taser at a Philadelphia Phillies game on May 3, 2010.

What does Gamboa think about the fans running on the field in Philadelphia?

Gamboa: I’m on a golf vacation and didn’t know anything about this. I hadn’t seen TV or heard radio until at the golf course today, a sports radio guy came up and he filled me in on what happened. And then only just prior to your show did your producer tell me what happened tonight, and I just cringed when I heard that because that is so reminiscent of my situation, when I was in Chicago in ’02.

The next time we went to Chicago in April of ’03, there were tons of security people, and I said to the security director, "What is all this for?" And they said, "Well, because your team is back in town, and the last time you were here, the incident occurred." And I laughed and said, "Gee, did they really think lightning was going to strike twice?"

And there were actually three incidents in one game of people copycatting, and the third one was where the guy tried to tackle the first base umpire. So it’s a shame, I just wish the fans would understand their only place is in the stands, and never any reason on the field of play to take away from the enjoyment of what everyone is there for, which is the competition on the field. But it just seems like we’re in a society where people are looking for any kind of what they think is fame or infamy at any cost. And once somebody does it, then you got people jumping on the bandwagon trying to be copycats. It’s really a shame.

What is Gamboa’s opinion on harsher penalties for fans going on the field?

Gamboa: Certainly, after my attack, Major League Baseball did a great job of really coming up. You look at every stadium now, they’ve got guys sitting back to back near the dugout, and down both lines, and the ushers between innings will come down right near the rail to act as a detriment for people to do this.

But you’re right, if there’s 40 or 50,000 fans, they’re always going to outnumber the ushers and the security people. So it’s virtually impossible to keep ’em, and I wish I had an answer for it. But I agree with you wholeheartedly, the penalties are not stringent enough.

My God, in my case the guy was given probation, and after violating it on four more occasions, the judge continued to give him probation because he said we had to understand this guy had an alcohol and a drug problem. I mean, it just seems to me like society makes excuses for people’s behavior rather than the more stringent thing of holding people accountable for their actions. And maybe a stiffer first offense, some mandatory time – whether it’s a week or 30 days, I don’t have the answer – but some time incarcerated to deter other people from following suit.

What did Gamboa take away from the 2002 incident, when he was attacked by a father and son on the field?

Gamboa: My only question in court was, "Why me?" The thing that I got was, "We were on drugs when we got to the park, then we drank beer throughout the game, and then we made a decision to get attention so when we got on the field, you were the closest one to us and your back was turned, so you were an easy target."
So, basically I was just at the right place doing my job at the wrong time with these two wackos. But having to coach third base with the Cubs prior to my tenure with the Royals, I can tell you, I loved going into Philadelphia. Like Chicago, they are die hard fans that support their team, and there’s an electricity in the ballpark there. I would hate to see, like I said about Chicago, I would hate to see Philly get a bad rap because of a couple of stupid people doing a bad act, because it doesn’t reflect to me, the city or the sports fans that they have. And I hope that gets across as this story goes around.

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