Opening day at Dodger Stadium turned violent when authorities say two men in Dodgers clothing severely beat a San Francisco Giants fan after the longtime rival teams' first game.
The attack left the victim in critical but stable condition as authorities asked any possible witnesses Friday for help in identifying the assailants. Investigators also reviewed footage of the Thursday incident to see if any security camera captured it, but Detective Larry Burcher said so far they'd found "nothing of great value."
"We're very confident there were witnesses, it happened immediately following the game when everybody was coming out," Burcher said.
Police said the argument started when the two men began taunting three men in Giants gear as thousands of baseball fans left the stadium after Thursday night's 2-1 Dodger victory, Detective T.J. Moore said.
The Giants fans tried to distance themselves from their assailants, and two made it away from them, but one was struck with fists on the back of the head and as he fell, his head hit the ground in Parking Lot 2 on the third base side of the ballpark, Moore said.
Both attackers then kicked the victim, who suffered a head injury, and ran, Moore said. When the victim's friends turned around to look for him, they saw him on the ground and made their way back to him.
Police paramedics on bicycles were the first to arrive to help the victim. An ambulance was called and the victim was taken to a nearby hospital, Moore said.
He remained in critical but stable condition Friday, the detective said. The victim has been identified, but his name was being withheld until police can talk to relatives, Moore said. Because his injuries were so severe, detectives had not yet talked to him, he said.
The victim was identified by KGO radio in San Francisco and the Santa Cruz Sentinel as Bryan Stow of Santa Cruz.
His brother-in-law, David Collins, told KGO that Stow has "swelling of the brain, a fractured skull, and ... a frontal lobe that's bruised pretty badly."
"It's sad," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said before Friday's game against the Dodgers. "It's a shame somebody's in critical condition because of a ball game. When they're out fighting in the parking lot, we've lost sight of what this is all about. Sounds like the guy got blindsided, too."
Stow, a Giants fan, is a father of two who works as a paramedic for American Medical Response in San Mateo, Collins told the Sentinel.
"He's not doing too well," he told the Sentinel. "He's still unconscious and they just decided to put him in a medically induced coma. They are hoping the brain swelling will go down, but it hasn't and they are talking about removing one of his frontal lobes, Collins said.
Moore said no one in the crowd had come forward with any cellphone or video camera footage, but also noted that there were so many people in the area that 90 per cent of the crowd may not have even known what was going on.
The Dodgers said they were co-operating with investigators and wished the victim a speedy recovery.
"It is extremely unfortunate that this incident took place on what was otherwise a great day at Dodger Stadium for tens of thousands of fans," the team said in a statement. "We're committed to having the most fan and family friendly environment in baseball and will continue to make that a top priority."
The stadium has been plagued by opening day violence in the past.
In April 2009, a man stabbed his friend in the stadium parking lot after the home opener, in which the Dodgers beat the Giants 11-1. Arthur Alvarez was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon. Alvarez, who contended that he was knocked to the ground and acted in self-defence, was later acquitted by a jury.
The West Coast rivalry began on April 18, 1958, the first game played in California after both teams had moved from New York. The Dodgers beat the Giants 6-5 in a game played before nearly 79,000 fans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
"I was disappointed," new Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said about the Thursday attack. "You don't want to see that. Everyone likes rivalries, but to me that's crossing the line."