“That was really crazy. I’ve never seen that before,” Berrios told reporters after the game. “In my mind, I said: ‘Really? That has to happen right now when I’m pitching?’ I just tried to keep focused.”
During the delay, pitchers in the bullpens tried to take out the drone with thrown baseballs, to no avail. Meanwhile, the umpires conferred with both managers and MLB security at Target Field and in New York, per the Star Tribune. After a while, the drone departed and the game resumed.
“Definitely a 2020 moment right there,” Twins Manager Rocco Baldelli said.
According to Federal Aviation Administration rules, drones and other “unmanned aircraft systems” are prohibited from flying within a radius of three nautical miles of any MLB stadium starting one hour before a game’s scheduled start and ending one hour after the game’s end (the rule also applies to NFL games, top-tier NCAA football games and auto racing events).
MLB and Minneapolis police are investigating the incident, according to the Star Tribune.
“Under FAA rules, Target Field is restricted airspace during a game,” said Matt Hoy, Twins senior vice president of operations. “It was just a small drone, and hopefully just a fan wanting to take pictures, but for security reasons, MLB doesn’t allow any drones around the park.”
The U.S. government can fine pilots who fly drones over unauthorized airspace, though a 2016 Vice investigation found that the punishments vary widely. Most of the violators discovered by Vice were fined between $1,100 and $2,200, though the FAA offered to settle for much less “if it receives pushback” in the form of an appeal by the pilot.
In May 2014, Vice found, a man was fined $1,100 for flying a drone over Citi Field, home of the New York Mets. The fine was reduced to $500. That same year, a man flew a drone over Texas Memorial Stadium during a college-football game between Texas and North Texas, resulting in a $1,100 fine that eventually was reduced to $800. Before an Alabama-Mississippi State football game in November 2015, a man flew a drone that “descended into a parking lot and struck a pedestrian just before it fell to the ground.” His fine of $1,100 was reduced to $900.
In May 2017, a drone flew over a Padres-Diamondbacks game in San Diego and crashed into fans in the stands, where one fan got a peculiar souvenir:
Something similar happened at the 2015 U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, when a man lost control of the drone he was piloting and it crashed into a bank of empty seats during a women’s singles match at Louis Armstrong Stadium. NYPD charged a Brooklyn science teacher with reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor, and two violations involving unlawful operation of a drone. A judge in Queens sentenced the man, Daniel Varley, to five days of community service.