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Gamboa disappointed

Ligue sentenced to 30 months probation for attack on coach

Posted: Wednesday August 06, 2003 1:21 PM
Updated: Wednesday August 06, 2003 8:23 PM

  William Ligue Jr. William Ligue Jr. must also perform community service and remain in substance abuse rehab. AP

CHICAGO (AP) -- A man who along with his son attacked the Kansas City Royals' Tom Gamboa during a game was sentenced Wednesday to probation, drawing criticism from the coach.

"To me, probation is nothing," Gamboa said.

Cook County Judge Leo Holt sentenced William Ligue Jr. to 30 months of probation after pleading guilty to two counts of aggravated battery. Ligue also must perform community service, attend parenting classes, remain in a substance abuse program and abide by a curfew for 90 days.

Prosecutors, the White Sox organization and a baseball official also criticized the sentence.

"One of our people suffered as a result of his actions, and for him not to be held as accountable was disappointing," said Kevin Hallinan, major league baseball's security chief.

Gamboa was coaching first base in a game against the Chicago White Sox in September when Ligue and his teenage son ran onto the field and beat him, leaving Gamboa with slight hearing loss in his right ear.

Gamboa, in Chicago on Wednesday as a three-game series between the Royals and White Sox wrapped up, said he was disappointed.

"The judge obviously had his reasons. I just would have a tough time having him look me in the face and explain to me the rationale for what he did," Gamboa said.

White Sox spokesman Scott Reifert said the organization had been hoping for a stiffer sentence.

The judge, who read from a 13-page sentencing order, wrote that probation "should not be viewed as a pass, or a slap on the wrist" because Ligue will have to live with the stigma of being a convicted felon.

Holt said probation was an opportunity for Ligue to recover from his alcoholism and drug addiction and "become a useful person."

Holt denied a request from major league baseball made through prosecutors that Ligue be banned from attending baseball games during his probation.

After the sentencing, Ligue, 35, said he was thankful for the judge's compassion. He could have received up to five years in prison.

"I'm just going to move on in my life and put this behind me," Ligue said.

Prosecutors had sought prison time, partly to deter other fans from similar behavior. But Holt said deterrence wasn't an issue in sentencing because such fan misbehavior is so uncommon.

Under an Illinois law that takes effect Jan. 1, unruly fans at sporting events will face possible prison time and a minimum fine of $1,000.

The law creates the offense of criminal trespass to a place of public amusement. It targets people who illegally enter restricted places, including a playing field, basketball court, locker room or stage.

Lawmakers cited the case of Ligue and a similar attack in April in which a man ran onto the field at a White Sox game and tackled an umpire. Eric Dybas, 24, was charged with one count of felony aggravated battery and one count of misdemeanor criminal trespass in the case.

Ligue's son was sentenced to five years' probation and 30 hours of community service, but a judge has recommended he be sent to a prison boot camp following a probation violation.

 
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