NEW YORK - A fan plunged from the upper deck at Yankee Stadium onto the screen behind home plate during Tuesday night’s game between New York and the Chicago White Sox, then was taken to a hospital for observation.
The game was delayed for four minutes in the eighth inning after 18-year-old Scott Harper of Armonk, N.Y., plummeted about 40 feet onto the large net. After the final out, he was carried from the ballpark on a stretcher, his head immobilized in a neck brace, and taken to Lincoln Hospital.
Harper told three friends he was sitting with that he was going to test whether the net would hold his weight — and then he jumped, police said.
“The next thing you know, you don’t see him anymore. You saw him on the net,” said 18-year-old Mike Spadafino, one of Harper’s friends.
Obviously scared and shaken after he landed, Harper sat with his head in his hands for a few moments before climbing on the net back up to the middle level of seats as players watched and the crowd roared.
“That was the only exciting thing that happened today,” Yankees owner George Steinbrenner said after Chicago’s 2-1 victory.
Harper then was hoisted over the railing and led away by security.
“People think we threw him off, but we’re all best friends, so I don’t think that would ever happen,” said 20-year-old Giusseppe Tripi, another one of Harper’s friends.
Det. Kevin Czartoryski said Harper was arrested and police expect to charge him with reckless endangerment, criminal mischief, criminal trespass and disorderly conduct.
“They claimed we were saying, ‘Sit or jump, sit or jump,”’ Spadafino said. “It was everyone in there, in the basic area.”
It was the second time in five years a fan dropped from the upper deck at Yankee Stadium. In May 2000, 24-year-old Stephen Laurenzi of Yonkers, N.Y., was unconscious for a short time while sprawled on the net as a game between Boston and New York went on. He also was arrested and taken to a hospital for observation.
“I was hoping I wouldn’t see that again,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said. “You could break your neck.”
In 1997 and 1998, there was only a high backstop behind the plate and no netting extending to the stands.
“I’ve never seen anything like that before,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. “I think that’s New York, you know, anything can happen.”
Peer pressure. Ah, it's a lovely thing. I need to get me some best friends like that.