Several Dodgers got into a bench-clearing tussle with Wrigley Field fans Tuesday night after fans stole Chad Kreuter's hat and hit him in the ninth inning of Los Angeles' 6-5 victory over the Chicago Cubs.
When the fight was over, several fans had been hauled out, the game had been delayed almost 10 minutes, there was litter on the field and the Dodgers were in shock at one of the more bizarre events ever at Wrigley Field.
"If you wanted a hat that bad, be polite and ask for one. We'll give it to you. We've got a whole bunch of them," said Todd Hundley, whose game-winning three-run homer was all but forgotten in the mess.
"When you get physical, if you even touch a player, then it's on."
Four fans were arrested; three were charged with disorderly conduct, and one was charged with criminal trespassing, police said. All four were released from jail, and a June 19 court date was set.
"Our security staff is still in the process of sorting things out," Cubs general manager Ed Lynch said.
No wonder. Fights between teams are one thing. But a melee with fans?
"I was just shocked," Gary Sheffield said. "I've never seen anything like that in my 12-year career."
Kreuter, a Dodgers catcher, was in the bullpen area, which is just over a small, chest-high wall from the fans, when pinch-hitter Julio Zuleta hit an RBI double to cut the Dodgers' lead to 6-5 with one out.
A fan grabbed Kreuter's cap, apparently hit him and then took off running. Kreuter gave chase, and a few of his teammates followed. The rest of the bullpen gathered along the first-base wall and Los Angeles' dugout emptied.
A few more players waded into the crowd, and several Dodgers were seen tussling with fans.
"If somebody pops one of my guys, that's not supposed to happen," Dodgers manager Davey Johnson said. "A couple guys were pretty much intoxicated, big guys. Then the beer started coming down."
Kreuter didn't want to talk about the fight, telling reporters to go talk to Hundley about his home run.
"The game was on the field," Kreuter said. "Todd Hundley was the hero."
It took security several minutes -- and several tries -- to finally restore order. Cubs manager Don Baylor and bench coach Rene Lachemann also came over to plead with fans to calm down.
"That was part of the problem. It kept going on and no one showed up. There were no uniformed personnel," Dodgers general manager Kevin Malone said. "It looked like it was out of control and there weren't any control measures in place."
But the Dodgers had no business going into the stands, Baylor said.
"I just know that when players go into the stands, you're taking big risks," Baylor said. "The next thing you know, you have their general manager standing next to me on the field. He shouldn't have been there, either. You can't go into the stands. No matter what they throw."
Wrigley Field fans are known for their spirited devotion to the Cubs. They cram the ball park no matter how bad the Cubs are. They throw opponents' home run balls back on the field. They stand in the ninth inning. They give Sammy Sosa standing ovations for just about anything.
But sometimes, they get out of control. A game against the Colorado Rockies last May was delayed when fans, upset over an umpire's call, pelted the field with baseballs, bottles, coins and cups of beer. Colorado centre-fielder Darryl Hamilton said one fan threw a Jack Daniels bottle onto the field.
Seventy-five people were ejected in that one, but there were no arrests. The Cubs restricted beer sales and added security after the incident.
"This is my home town. I've been here hundreds of times," said Hundley, whose father, Randy, played for the Cubs. "I'm really disappointed in my home-town fans."
But Malone said he's not holding all Cubs fans responsible. And he doesn't think the bullpen needs to be moved.
"This is a great ball park. Wrigley is a special place ... I wouldn't change anything," Malone said. "Just because there are a few intoxicated fans, we shouldn't spoil it for all Cubs fans."
Malone also said he's not worried about his team's safety the rest of the three-game series.
"Unless those guys come back and drink some more."