Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Coleman In Hot Water Over Firecrackers

On July 24, 1993, Vince Coleman gets in trouble for throwing firecrackers at a group of fans outside of a ball game.
Coleman was one of the fastest base runners the game of baseball had ever seen, compiling multiple seasons with more than 100 stolen bases and even stealing a record 50 in a row in 1989.

After leading the league in stolen bases the first six seasons of his career, Coleman left the St. Louis Cardinals to sign a large deal with the New York Mets – where his productivity took a nosedive. He did not live up to his massive three million dollar salary and failed to even keep out of trouble.

He feuded with Jeff Torborg, scuffled with a batting coach, claimed that Shea Stadium's aesthetics were preventing him from being a Hall of Famer, cost Dwight Gooden a start when he accidentally wacked him with a golf club, and was even accused of a raping woman in 1991, although no charges were ever filed.

But his most infamous moment came after a 5-4 extra-inning loss in Los Angeles. Coleman and Bobby Bonilla were in the passenger's seat of a car, driven by teammate Eric Davis, when they pulled up in front of Dodgers Stadium, where a few hundred fans were exiting. Coleman, as a practical joke, hurled a firecracker into the throng of people before they drove away laughing. The citizens involved weren't laughing though; the explosion injured several people, including a 33 -year old woman, an 11 year-old boy and the eyesight, cheek, and finger of two year-old Amanda Santos.

Coleman would play in three more games before the Mets dismissed him for the rest of the season (albeit with pay). He was given three years probation, 200 hours of community service, and an additional $2,500 in fines. It took him several days to apologize, and when he did, he offered the following statement: "I'm a father first and an athlete second. Amanda stood out near a gate to catch a glimpse of a ballplayer. But today, I want her to catch a glimpse of a loving father and a helpful friend."

The next season, he was traded to the Kansas City Royals.