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Pirates infielder apologizes, fined for sausage race attack

Posted: Thursday July 10, 2003 6:11 PM
Updated: Friday July 11, 2003 10:30 AM
  Sausage race The Italian sausage made a comeback and won Thursday's race. AP

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Mandy Block says she'll accept an apology from Pittsburgh first baseman Randall Simon, but all she really wants is the bat he used to hit her as she ran past the Pirates' dugout dressed as an Italian sausage.

With a swing of that bat Wednesday night, Simon sent Block in her heavy costume tumbling to the ground, and a fellow sausage racer also fell, producing a videotape that by Thursday became a media sensation.

Simon, cited for disorderly conduct and fined $432, issued a public apology before leaving town with the team after Thursday's 5-4 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers. Block said a team representative told her Simon would telephone Friday to apologize.

"One of the public relations ladies called me and she talked to me and she was really nice and offered a lot and said, 'Anytime you're in Pittsburgh ... the best seat in the house is yours,"' Block said as she sat on her couch in her South Milwaukee home late Thursday evening.

"But all I wanted was the bat."

She and the other racer, Veronica Piech, had the day off Thursday from their jobs with the Brewers, but they planned to return Friday. Block said she was told their bats autographed by Simon would be waiting at Miller Park, and hers would be the same bat Simon swung at her Wednesday night.

Susan Block, the mother of the University of Wisconsin-Madison student, said Friday morning that her daughter had not yet received the call from Simon. Mrs. Block said the two sausage racers planned to arrive at the stadium together shortly before the Brewers game Friday evening with the Cincinnati Reds and get the bats then.

The sausage race, a fan favorite since the team started running it in 1995, features four team employees 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.

Mascots gone wild
Randall Simon's attack on the Milwaukee sausages is just the latest in a long line of incidents with mascots.

Click here for a timeline of strange mascot incidents throughout the years. 
 
 

Simon said he was just playing around when he swatted at the racer 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."

Simon appeared in the district attorney's office Thursday. Deputy District Attorney Jon Reddin said that after reviewing the tape and interviewing the women, he would not be filing criminal charges.

The incident catapulted Block, of South Milwaukee, into the international spotlight. Videotape of the incident was replayed over and over on national television news and sports programs.

"It's such a silly little thing, you know," she said. "I can see both point of views. ... From my point of view, it's crazy because I am not used to like being interviewed or anything. I'm like, 'I'm just a sausage guys. It's not a big deal. I'm fine."'

Block, who has worked for two summers with the organization as a member of the on-field promotional team, said it's normal for opposing teams to throw peanuts or squeeze water bottles at them as they run by.

"I saw the bat before I got to him. I thought he was just going to fake me out," said Block, who stands 5-foot-3. "I am real little and I didn't take the blow very well.

Block said the blow to the costume didn't hurt because it hit the head section, which is above her head.

"I don't think he did it intentionally, like to hurt me, I think he was doing it as a joke," Block said.

But Piech, a Franklin resident who plays volleyball at Harding University in Searcy, Ark, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that she was "disgusted" with Simon.

"From the moment this has happened, I've had utter disgust with the situation," said Piech, 21, who has a rod in her leg from a prior injury. "I did not think it was a funny practical joke. He could have ended my career just like somebody could end his."

The Pirates apologized for the incident and said the team does not condone Simon's behavior and will address the issue internally. Simon was not in the starting lineup in Thursday's game when Pirates won 5-4 over the Brewers.

At Miller Park Thursday, Brewers fan Mike Rose, of Kenosha, was willing to forgive and forget, though he thought a league fine would be appropriate.

"If they weren't really hurt, I don't think they should really charge him," Rose said. "I've seen sausage races where they fall down by themselves," he said.

An apology was not enough for Mark Johnson of Middleton, though.

"He's a professional athlete. He should be a role model," Johnson said Thursday. "I think they should dress him up as the hot dog in the sausage race. Nobody ever likes the hot dog."

Block's mother, Susan Block, 47, said she saw Simon on television Thursday saying he had called her daughter and left messages, but he hadn't.

"That's the part that really makes me mad. ... Now he's in deep doo-doo with me."

"A nice apology to the girls is in order."

 
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