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Sunday, October 12, 2003
Updated: October 13, 4:25 PM ET
Police to decide whether to file assault charges

ESPN.com news services

BOSTON -- Police sought witnesses to a bullpen fight between two Yankees players and a Red Sox employee before deciding whether to file assault charges.

The Red Sox said that two Boston police officers in the bullpen support the story of grounds crew worker Paul Williams, who contends Yankees Jeff Nelson and Karim Garcia attacked him for cheering for the Red Sox.

Nelson told the Newark Star-Ledger in Monday's editions that he was not worried about potential criminal charges.

"I know what I did. I know the truth," Nelson said. "If I did something wrong, I'd be worried about it. I didn't do anything wrong. It's great to be a diehard Red Sox or Yankees fan, but it's another to take it to another extreme. That's what these people are doing.

"I played this game too long to go out and attack somebody. I know what to do, I know the right way to do things, and it's a shame everybody took it the other way."

The Yankees won Game 3 4-3 to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven AL championship series, with Game 4 rescheduled for Monday.

Police spokesman Michael McCarthy was not sure how long the investigation would take.

"They're looking for people to come forward," he said.

The Red Sox defended Williams.

"We support employees whether they are members of the grounds crew, members of the pitching staff, or whatever," team president Larry Lucchino said.

Nelson said he was annoyed that Williams was cheering for the Red Sox while he was in the New York bullpen. "I told him to go over to the other side," Nelson said.

Williams said he only cheered for the Red Sox once.

"If that was poor taste or improper baseball etiquette or decorum, that's certainly something someone could question," Red Sox spokesman Charles Steinberg said. "Whether it merited an attack that had him in the hospital is certainly another story."

Steinberg said that Williams had cleat marks on his back and arm, and he was wearing a neck brace when he left the hospital Sunday morning.

Williams will be welcomed back to his job as long as the police investigation doesn't contradict his story, Lucchino said.

The police report, obtained by several media outlets Sunday, said the fight began as a "verbal confrontation" between Nelson and Williams.

Officer Michael Pankievich was working in the Yankees bullpen when he saw Nelson "pushing-grabbing the victim in the chest area," the report said.

The two fell and several other Yankees jumped in, "some striking the victim and others attempting to break up the melee," according to the report, written by Det. William P. Dunn. Dunn was working in the Red Sox bullpen.

"The right fielder from the Yankees was then observed jumping the right field wall, into the bullpen and began striking down at the victim with his left hand," the report said.

Protection by the bullpen will be increased Monday, according to Kevin Hallinan, baseball's senior vice president of security.

"I'm going to have one of my full-time staff, there's going to be a Boston Red Sox security person there and there's going to be a Boston police officer there," he said. "We met today with the Red Sox security people and the Boston PD, and we felt this would be the best combination. The Boston PD also is going to have more people out in the stands area by the bullpen."