“While the Yankees appreciate the spirit and passion of our fans in our various rivalries — especially with the Red Sox — reckless, disorderly and dangerous behavior that puts the safety of players, field staff or fellow fans in jeopardy will not be tolerated,” the Yankees said in a statement. “There is absolutely no place for it at Yankee Stadium. The safety of everyone at Yankee Stadium, including guests in the stands and players on the field, will always be the top priority for the Yankees organization every time we open our doors.”
In the immediate aftermath of Verdugo getting hit with the ball, Red Sox Manager Alex Cora pulled his team off the field until the situation could be sorted out and tempers cooled.
According to the New York Post, the sequence began when Verdugo — who reportedly had been in verbal exchanges with Yankees fans during previous games in New York — tried to toss a baseball to a Red Sox fan. A Yankees fan intercepted the throw, at which point other fans began chanting for the ball to be thrown back, and the fan obliged, witnesses told the newspaper.
“I come to expect it when I’m out there. The trash-talking, bringing up family members, having everybody chant — excuse my language — ‘[Expletive] Verdugo’ and all these things, I’m used to that,” Verdugo said after the game. “I don’t care. That’s cool with me.
“As players, we’re throwing a ball in the stands to try to give people souvenirs, try to make a little kid’s day and things like that,” he continued. “Just to hear people saying, ‘Throw it back,’ and someone to throw it back, and it felt it was targeted toward me, it don’t sit right with me.
“You don’t throw [expletive] at people,” added Verdugo, who is in his second season with the Red Sox after coming over from the Los Angeles Dodgers in a blockbuster trade for Mookie Betts. “You wouldn’t do that to somebody in the street. You wouldn’t do that to me if we were staying right next to each other without a 40-foot gap and a fence to separate us.”
“It was wrong,” Cora said Sunday of the fan’s act (via the New York Post). “[Saturday] was one incident. Somebody made a bad decision, throwing a baseball. … One thing’s for sure: When I went out there, it was loud and it got nasty, from both sides. I just needed to calm [Verdugo] down. That was the whole reason I took everybody off the field.”
Verdugo came back onto the field with his teammates after the umpires held a discussion near the Boston dugout.
“Obviously the player was upset, understandably so,” umpire crew chief Jeff Nelson said of Verdugo after the game Saturday (via the Associated Press). “We tried to make sure that there was a security presence in left field, that the issue was addressed by security, and then also balancing that with continuing the game and keeping the game moving, knowing that we had continuous rain.”
“It’s awful, embarrassing, unacceptable,” Yankees Manager Aaron Boone said of the incident, which became the latest episode of unruly fan behavior since teams and leagues began letting large crowds back into events this year.
“This is just a game,” Cora said Saturday. “It’s a game. It’s not life and death, and it’s not this drama. And the fact that people come to the ballpark and they decided to throw a baseball [at] one of the players, I was in shock that that happened.”