The Italian job
Simon won't be charged in sausage race prankPosted: Thursday July 10, 2003 12:31 AM
Updated: Thursday July 10, 2003 4:35 PM
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Randall Simon won't face criminal charges for swatting a young woman with a bat as she took part in the popular human sausage race at the Milwaukee Brewers' ballpark.
Deputy District Attorney Jon Reddin said the women "were not interested in having him charged criminally" and did not believe Simon meant to hurt them.
The Milwaukee County Sheriff's Department cited Simon for disorderly conduct, which carries a $432 fine.
Simon said he didn't deliberately try to knock down the woman, who was wearing an Italian sausage costume. She tumbled to the ground and got a few scrapes but wasn't hurt.
"That wasn't my intention in my heart for that to happen," Simon said in the locker room at Miller Park before Thursday afternoon's game. "I was just trying to get a tap at the costume and for her to finish the race."
Sheriff David Clarke said Simon can contest the disorderly conduct citation at a Sept. 3 court hearing.
The sausage race, a fan favorite at Miller Park, features four people dressed as an oversized bratwurst, a hot dog, an Italian sausage and a Polish sausage who run around the infield warning track between the sixth and seventh innings.
The sausages were racing past the Pirates' dugout Wednesday night when videotape showed Simon took a bat and swatted the Italian sausage. The 18-year-old woman in that costume fell to the ground and caused the 19-year-old woman in the hot dog costume to also fall.
Simon said he hoped to apologize to the woman before he leaves Milwaukee. He said he was just playing around when he swatted at her with the bat.
"I thought at the moment they were trying to play with us. They were running right next to the players," he said. "I'm a fun player, and I've never hurt anyone in my life."
The two women and Simon were interviewed Wednesday night at the stadium, Sheriff's Deputy Inspector Sherry Warichak said. Simon and one of the women met with prosecutors in the district attorney's office Thursday morning.
Simon was taken in handcuffs to the Milwaukee County Jail. He was booked, released and ordered to meet with county prosecutors Thursday, Warichak said. Clarke said the booking was standard procedure for someone from out of town.
After the incident, Simon drew boos from many of the fans when he was used as a pinch-hitter in the seventh. He grounded out in the only playing time he saw. The Brewers won 2-1 in 12 innings.
The Pirates issued a statement Thursday apologizing for the incident and saying the team does not condone Simon's behavior and will address the issue internally. Simon was not in the starting lineup Thursday.
Rick Schlessinger, Brewers executive vice president for business operations, said he felt Simon's conduct was unjustified.
"This is one of the most outrageous things I've ever seen inside a ballpark or outside a ballpark," he said. "It sickened me to see it."
The team planned to continue the sausage races in their current form. Brewers spokesman Jon Greenberg said the sausages were scheduled to compete against Pittsburgh's racing pierogies at a series Aug. 15-17 in Pittsburgh and at a series Aug. 22-24 at Milwaukee. A pierogi is a type of stuffed dumpling.
Brewers vice president Laurel Prieb said the racing sausages have been a fan favorite since they were introduced "as a lark" around 1995.
Brewers fan Teresa Krebs said, "This is a big sausage town. It's the beer and brats factor. "It's just kind of a goofy tradition."
Brad Ehlers, a Pirates fan at Thursday's game, said he thought Pittsburgh should fine Simon.
"It sets a bad example for kids, especially for someone people look up to," he said.
Jim Verage, though, said the incident was overblown.
"I think he was just clowning around," he said.