CHICAGO (AP) -- A father and son contend they were provoked
before bursting onto the field at a baseball game and attacking the
first base coach of the Kansas City Royals.
Coach Tom Gamboa, however, maintains he had no exchanges with
the two before they slammed him to the ground and started punching
and kicking him during Thursday night's game against the Chicago
The father, William Ligue Jr., was charged Friday with
aggravated battery, a felony. He was in custody and expected to
appear in court Saturday in a case that has raised fear among major
leaguers and questions about safety at ballparks nationwide.
Ligue's 15-year-old son was charged with two juvenile counts of
aggravated battery, one for attacking Gamboa and the other for
hitting a White Sox security guard, an off-duty police officer.
The teenager was initially released to his mother, but he was
later taken to a juvenile detention center after authorities
reviewed the case. He is due in court Monday. Calls to his mother's
home went unanswered.
According to a law enforcement source who spoke on condition of
anonymity, Ligue was at the game with two sons and several of their
Sitting in the first row along the right-field line, the group
shouted insults at Gamboa all night. The source said Ligue and his
family contended there was some back and forth until Gamboa made an
Around the seventh inning, Ligue called a female relative on a
cell phone to ask if she was watching the game, and when she could
not find the channel, he said, "Well then, just watch the news,''
the source said.
The Royals rushed to Gamboa's aid after he was knocked to the
ground, and the 54-year-old coach escaped with a few cuts and
bruises. A folded-up pocket knife was found on the ground
Gamboa said he had no idea why he was attacked in the top of the
ninth inning of a game the Royals won 2-1. He said one of the fans
was speaking, but he couldn't tell what he was saying.
"He was yelling something, but it was incoherent,'' Gamboa
As they were being put into police cars following their arrests,
the father and son, both shirtless, contended Gamboa had made an
"He got what he deserved,'' said Ligue, who has past
convictions for burglary and domestic battery.
But Gamboa insisted he had no exchange with them before the
"The only thing that's really got me upset even more than the
incident itself is the charge that there was something going on
between us,'' Gamboa said. "I have never in my professional career
ever responded'' to fans.
"At no time, no matter how bad it got, have I ever made a hand
gesture or verbally done anything to the fans.''
Major League Baseball said it would look into whether it needs
to make changes in security at ballparks. Ligue and his son hopped
a waist-high sign to get on the field, but there's no guarantee a
larger wall would have kept them out.
"We're going to review all of our procedures in and around the
dugouts and bullpens,'' said Kevin Hallinan, executive director of
security for the commissioner's office. "We need to go back to the
drawing board because of what appears to be happening in the late
stages of games, with fans moving to those areas. We want to make
sure we are addressing that problem.''
White Sox spokesman Scott Reifert said he couldn't discuss any
possible security changes. But on Friday night, there were two
uniformed and armed Chicago police officers stationed near where
Ligue and his son entered the field.
About a dozen security guards -- all of whom are off-duty police
officers -- already are positioned at both ends of each dugout and
elsewhere on the field.
"Whenever something happens you're not being responsible if you
don't at least re-examine what you're doing,'' White Sox general
manager Kenny Williams said.
The White Sox began a three-game homestand with AL Central rival
Minnesota on Friday night, and Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said
his team had no fears about coming to Comiskey Park.
"We've always had a lot of fun here,'' Gardenhire said. "We've
never had a problem.''
This was the second unusual disruption during a game this week.
On Monday night, police trying to break up a fight in the stands at
FedEx Field in Landover, Md., used pepper spray that drifted onto
the field and sickened some players as the Philadelphia Eagles
played the Washington Redskins. There were no serious injuries.
Instances of on-field attacks by fans have been rare over the
years, but athletes are increasingly worried for their safety as
fans get more and more brazen.
"You're not safe anywhere,'' Royals outfielder Carlos Beltran
said. "We think we're safe at the ballpark. What happened, that
tells us no matter where we are, we're not safe.''
In 1995, Cubs reliever Randy Myers was on the mound when he was
rushed by a fan, whom he knocked down with his forearm. In 1999, a
fan attacked Houston right fielder Bill Spiers in Milwaukee,
leaving him with a welt under his left eye, a bloody nose and
The most notorious attack came in April 1993 when tennis star
Monica Seles was stabbed in the back by an obsessed fan during a
match in Hamburg, Germany.
Greg Bouris, a spokesman for the Major League Baseball Players
Association, said overall, security at ballparks is excellent,
considering the millions of fans who attend the games every year.
"If there is a problem that is defined, we have to get together
to make sure this doesn't happen again,'' he said.
Security at ballparks tightened after the Sept. 11 terrorist
attacks. Fans are not allowed to bring in large bags, and smaller
ones are searched. But like the screenings at airports, they've
relaxed with time.
And with no metal detectors at ballparks, there's nothing to
prevent someone from bringing in a weapon.
"It doesn't matter how much you beef up security,'' Royals
starter Paul Byrd said. "Anybody can get by at any minute.''