Blue Jays offer 'sincere apologies' to Orioles after fan throws beer can at outfielder
Toronto police release image of man believed responsible, but media report says he denies it
The Toronto Blue Jays have formally apologized to the Baltimore Orioles after a fan threw a beer can on the field at Orioles' outfielder Hyun Soo Kim on Tuesday night.
In a statement released Wednesday, the Blue Jays expressed "extreme disappointment" for the incident during the American League wild card game at Rogers Centre. The team offered "sincere apologies" to the Orioles, its managers and players, and Major League Baseball.
"Throughout this season, we have witnessed an incredible level of fan engagement, with a passionate and loyal fan base that extends across Canada," the statement reads.
"On the heels of one of the most competitive and exhilarating baseball games in our club's history, it is extremely unfortunate that the irresponsible actions of one individual would detract from the game on the field, and tarnish an otherwise memorable night."
Toronto police are looking for the person responsible. Police released a photo Wednesday of the man they allege threw the can. Police said investigators have worked closely with the Rogers Centre to identify the suspect.
Ken Pagan, in an email to The Canadian Press late Wednesday, said that he's the man in the photo and had contacted Toronto police earlier that night, adding he couldn't say much more.
Other media identified the same man in the photo Wednesday night, but one media outlet that spoke to the man said he suggested that the police may have gotten it wrong.
The incident occurred in the bottom of the seventh inning, as Kim was tracking a fly ball. The beer can flew out of the left-field stands and onto the field, not far from where Kim eventually caught the ball.
He turned and looked at the can as centre fielder Adam Jones ran over and began yelling at fans.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter ran onto the field to check on his players, and give the umpires an earful.
The Jays won the wild-card game, beating Baltimore 5-2 on a walk-off three-run homer by Edwin Encarnacion in the 11th inning. They open their American League Division Series against the Texas Rangers in Arlington on Thursday.
The Blue Jays said the team will take steps to prevent a repeat of the incident.
"We're co-operating with the authorities to identify the individual involved, and the individual responsible is not welcome back to the stadium. We will also enact heightened security measures and alcohol policies that will ensure the fan experience and safety of everybody involved," it reads.
The Blue Jays did not specify how the team will increase security or change alcohol sales.
Toronto police Supt. Scott Gilbert, unit commander of the force's 52 Division, tweeted Wednesday morning urging the person who threw the can to turn himself or herself into police.
Later, he noted that security camera footage at the Rogers Centre would help investigators identify the person responsible.
"Rogers Centre has excellent video surveillance. They have excellent images of the person who we believe was responsible for throwing that beer," Gilbert told CBC Toronto, adding that police will use video to zero in on the seat location, go back through the records from the scanned tickets and find out who purchased that seat.
"That person will be getting a knock at the door very soon from the Toronto Police Service. So my message as I said in the morning is: Do the right thing. You didn't do it last night, but do the right thing today and turn yourself in to 52 Division."
To the person who threw the beer last night at the Jays game turn yourself in. Rogers Centre has great video so do the right thing today.—@scottgilbertTPS
According to Gilbert, there are "a variety of charges" for police to consider laying, including assault with a weapon, common nuisance, mischief to interfere with the lawful use and enjoyment of property, and mischief endangering life.
"You've got a ballplayer whose back is turned to the crowd, he's trying to make a play for his team in a competitive game and you have one idiot throwing a beer at that player, narrowly missing him, trying to interfere with the play and in the process endangering the life of not only the ballplayer but, if the beer hadn't even made it to the field level, then somebody else in the stands," Gilbert said.
'You don't do that'
After the game, Showalter said it was lucky that no one was injured.
"It's tough when you have many people in the ballpark and one person does something that reflects poorly on all of them," he said.
Through an interpreter, Kim said such an incident should never happen.
"It's the first time for me and hopefully the last," he said.
Jones, who also reported hearing fans yell racial slurs, said such behaviour should not be part of sport.
"You don't do that. Yell, cuss or scream," Jones said. "To put us in harm's way, when all we're doing is focusing on the game. That's not part of baseball."
On Wednesday, MLB issued a statement, saying the league and the team are "extremely disappointed" about the can being thrown on the field.
"We appreciate the ongoing investigative efforts of the Toronto Police Service to identify the individual responsible. Any fan who resorts to dangerous actions like last night's — in Toronto or elsewhere — will be subject to arrest by local authorities," read the statement provided to CBC News.
"We ask all fans to alert stadium operations employees if they witness any form of unacceptable behaviour from fellow spectators."
The incident was not the first of its kind at the Rogers Centre. Unruly fans threw beer cans onto the field during Game 5 of last year's ALDS against Texas. Some of that beer landed on a mother and her baby.
With files from The Canadian Press