Once knuckleheads p�re and fils were subdued by Kansas City players and led off by police, and Royals first base coach Tom Gamboa was seen laughing despite the welt on his head, people could joke about the on-field attack by 34-year-old William Ligue Jr. and his 15-year-old son at Comiskey Park last Thursday. But to players and people responsible for their safety, the attack was a reminder of how hard it is to police a stadium. The Sept. 16 game between the Eagles and the Redskins in Washington, D.C., was stopped for eight minutes when pepper spray that police used to break up a fight drifted toward the Philadelphia bench. While field intruders have historically been relatively peaceful—think Morganna—they can, in rare instances, turn violent. In 1995 Cubs pitcher Randy Myers fended off a charging Wrigley fan, and in 1999 Houston rightfielder Bill Spiers was jumped by a man in Milwaukee.
What's particularly unsettling is that breaches are occurring at a time when security has never been tighter. But post-Sept. 11 measures are designed primarily to protect spectators; protecting players is another matter. Baseball has said it may become stricter about fans moving into field-level seats in late innings, after they've had a chance to tie one on. More drastic steps like metal detectors and barbed wire are too fan-unfriendly to contemplate just yet. Says Kevin Hallinan, baseball's security chief, who has prepared a report on the subject for commissioner Bud Selig, "The only positive [to the Gamboa incident] is that it was a learning experience."