Gary Sheffield Hit By Boston Fan

New York Yankees outfielder Gary Sheffield was hit by a fan during last night’s game with the Boston Red Sox but restrained himself from beating the crap out of the guy.

Gary Sheffield Scuffles With Boston Fan (AP)

Photo:In this image from video, New York Yankees outfielder Gary Sheffield (11) tussles with a Boston Red Sox fans in the eighth inning Thursday, April 14, 2005, in Boston. (AP Photo/Yes Network, MLB)Gary Sheffield was fielding Jason Varitek’s two-run triple along the low right-field fence in the eighth inning of the Red Sox’s 8-5 victory over the Yankees Thursday night when a fan swung a short uppercut in his direction, appearing to graze the side of the slugger’s face with his right arm. “Something hit me in the mouth. It felt like a hand,” Sheffield said. “I thought my lip was busted.” Sheffield turned to the Boston fan who hit him, his fist cocked and his temper hot. Then, the Yankees outfielder stopped himself from doing something foolish.

“We have to give Sheffield a lot of credit,” Boston’s Johnny Damon said, “for him to restrain himself the way he did.”
After Sheffield picked up the ball, he shoved the fan before throwing the ball back to the infield as two runs scored. Another fan’s beer also sprayed in Sheffield’s direction. “I tried to get his hand out of my face so I could continue on with the play,” he said. “To get punched in the mouth, you don’t expect that in a baseball game.”

Sheffield then whirled around with a cocked fist, shouting in the face of the first man but restrained himself and did not throw a punch. A security official quickly jumped over the three-foot wall to separate the two. Players and more security officials gathered in the area, but order was soon restored.

Sheffield involved in incident with fan — Brushed by fan, right fielder shows some restraint (

Photo: Manager Joe Torre (second from right) checks on Gary Sheffield (second from left) after the right fielder was involved in an incident with a fan in the eighth inning. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) Gary Sheffield was trying to retrieve a ball at the foot of the right-field wall on Thursday night when he felt something hit him in the mouth. Sheffield’s first reaction was to go after the fan who had just whacked him, but two words jumped out in the outfielder’s mind that made him hold himself back: Ron Artest.


“I was trying to get his hand out of my face so I could continue with the play. I threw the ball in and was getting ready to react, but I held my composure,” Sheffield said. “It was hard. It’s just a baseball game, so I’m trying to represent the game the right way. To get punched in the mouth, you don’t expect that at a baseball game.”

“I think that was the best thing he could have done,” said Bernie Williams. “He showed a lot of class and was able to maintain his composure. Hopefully that guy will get what he deserves, because there’s no reason for that to happen.”

Red Sox spokesman Glenn Geffner said that the fan, whose name was not released, was removed from the ballpark. “He was ejected from the ballpark for attempting to interfere with the ball in play, which is consistent with Red Sox policy,” Geffner said. “He was not arrested. There have been no charges filed at this time, pending interviews that will be done and the review of video.”

There is some controversy over whether the fan intentionally hit Sheffield or merely overzealous in going after a souvenir. Either way, Sheffield’s restraint under pressure here was commendable.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Jack Tanner says:

    ‘There is some controversy over whether the fan intentionally hit Sheffield or merely overzealous in going after a souvenir.’

    WTF? I saw it on TV and saw about 100 replays and the guy looked like he was trying to knock sheffield’s hat off or something. The only controversy was whether he actually hit him or whiffed. I have no issue with what Sheff did but he’s full of s#!t about pushing the guy away so he could throw the ball in. The problem with all this stuff is it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt and right now there are thousands of brain dead Skankee fans crawling out of the gutters to get likkered up and will be skipping their medication on Memorial Day weekend.

  2. BigFire says:

    Intention or not, once the ‘fan’ crosses over the line, he’s fair game. The ESPN radio this morning went on and on about how quickly the security guard intervined that prevented the incident from getting out of hand.

  3. LJD says:

    Maybe there’s some new footage out there… What I saw looked nothing like a punch or even a swing at Sheffield.
    The Yankees are hotheads, always have been. Remember the Fenway grounds keeper getting assaulted, Bronson Arroyo being slapped by A-(hole) Rod, repeated and intentional beanings…
    So now A-Rod is supposed to be some kind of hero for “saving” some kid from begin run over by a car. The only kid in Boston who is a Yankees fan. It just wreaks of a set-up.
    This is all a bunch of propaganda B.S. The yankees got punked by the Sox last year. I;m looking for a repeat performance.

  4. I don’t care for baseball all that much, so I’m not going to play sides here. The fan took an obvious swipe, and while some people think he was intentionally going for Sheffield’s head, and others think he was going for the ball, I think he was actually going for Sheffield’s arm to intefere with his fielding of the ball, and got his head by mistake.

    Also, I don’t know where people say Sheffield pushed the guy, or didn’t take a punch at him. Sheffield clearly swung at him in the video, and missed. Quite frankly, even not being a Yankees fan, it would have served the fan right if Sheffield connected.

  5. wavemaker says:

    This is a perfect example of thousands of people seeing different things. From my perspective:

    1. The guy swung his arm, probably not AT Sheffield, but against the fench, IN THE LINE OF THE PLAY, and very close to where Sheffield’s head was. I thought he was going after the ball, which was enough of a MEATHEAD move, since it may have cost the Sox a run when fan interference results in a ground rule double.

    2. Sheffield DID NOT throw a punch at the guy. He shoved the guy away (hard), as in “Get the %#@$+ out of my WAY, ASSHOLE,” retreated and held his ground. I have no problem with that.

    Simple rule: If a fan even ATTEMPTS to interfere with an ongoing play on the field (and that includes someone up on the Green Monster seats reaching over the edge to catch a ball going off the wall), he should be removed from the park. No exceptions.

  6. bryan says:

    Or, they could put up a four foot chain link fence above the low wall, or remove a couple of rows of seats and put up a second wall to keep these idiots from charging the players.

  7. homongous says:

    I’m a Yankees fan. I’ve been to only 7 major league ballparks. Fenway is the best of them. Best place to watch a baseball game. Put up fences, and no way will it continue to be the best. I like wavemaker’s idea. Eject and prosecute fans. Latest news from the New York Post:

    “With the use of high-definition television, the Boston P.D. came to the conclusion that House wasn’t reaching for the ball that was hit by Jason Varitek.

    “They have looked at it a long time, and thanks to HD, it’s clear what the fan was up to,” a source close to the Boston P.D. told The Post yesterday. “He wasn’t going for the ball.””


    “not only are the Boston police seeking a judge to sign an arrest warrant for Chris House, but the Red Sox are looking into revoking House’s five tickets in the front of row of right field at Fenway.”