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Wednesday, September 15, 2004
Injured fan wants Francisco prosecuted news services

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Oakland Athletics and Texas Rangers agree on one thing: Effective measures have been taken to improve security in the Oakland Coliseum.

The clubs were still debating Tuesday on who's to blame for an altercation Monday night that led to the arrest of Rangers reliever Frank Francisco after he threw a chair that hit a woman and broke her nose.

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  • David Rinetti, A's vice president of stadium operations, said Tuesday a review of the ninth-inning fracas -- which took place in the field box seats between the Texas dugout and bullpen -- showed the fans' behavior wasn't over the line according to baseball's rules of conduct that are posted at every ballpark entrance.

    "The incident became ugly when players approached the seating area," Rinetti said.

    He noted the fans didn't yell racial slurs or swear at the Texas players. Oakland police spokeswoman Danielle Ashford said Francisco was not being heckled when he got involved.

    Francisco was arrested Tuesday morning on a charge of aggravated battery after he threw a chair into the right-field box seats and hit two spectators in the head during the 7-6, 10-inning loss. He posted $15,000 bail and will appear in Alameda County Superior Court on Wednesday, the District Attorney's Office told the Contra Costa Times.

    The injured woman, identified by her lawyer Tuesday as Jennifer Bueno, 41, of Livermore, wants Francisco to be prosecuted. A civil suit is also a likely possibility, because she'll need medical treatment, said the lawyer, Gary Gwilliam. Bueno will speak at a news conference at 3 p.m. ET Wednesday in Oakland.

    Bueno's husband, Craig Bueno, is a battalion chief with the Hayward Fire Department. Gwilliam wouldn't comment on what Bueno might have yelled at Rangers players before the fracas, saying he would let the man speak for himself at the news conference.

    "There is no justification for what they did," Gwilliam said. "Fans are fans and they have a right to have some fun and do some badgering if they want."

    Gwilliam said it wasn't just Francisco who went after the A's fans.

    "It's the whole damn team that tried to charge and fight with the fans," he said.

    According to a report in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Rangers closer Francisco Cordero told Sporting News Radio on Tuesday that fans had been shouting at the Rangers throughout the night Monday and were "way out of control."

    Commissioner Bud Selig said he was "very concerned about the incident."

    "Obviously I can never condone under any circumstances players engaging in any kind of obstruction or violence," Selig said at Miller Park, where he was watching Barry Bonds' chase for 700 homers. "Here, we are having our greatest season in a long time and I hate for this to happen."

    Sandy Alderson, executive vice president of baseball operations, and Kevin Hallinan, senior vice president of security, arrived in Oakland before Tuesday's game.

    Alderson said he hopes a disciplinary decision will be reached by the end of the week. He didn't speculate the length of a suspension for Francisco or others.

    "Any time an object is thrown, there are very serious consequences," said Alderson, who planned to be in town for several days to investigate. "There's no excuse that justifies a player going into the stands."

    Bob Watson, the vice president of on-field operations for baseball, will decide what punishment will be handed out to the players, while Selig said he would monitor the process.

    Rangers manager Buck Showalter was quick to point to previous problems the Rangers have had in the Oakland Coliseum. He claimed the Rangers had asked for more security in the area, but Rinetti said neither he nor his security staff had been approached with such a request.

    Oakland police Sgt. Tom Hogenmiller, who is in charge of special events at Network Associates Coliseum, told The Dallas Morning News that Showalter was off base in blaming Oakland fans.

    "I don't know where that comes from other than people in Texas trying to defend the completely unwarranted actions of the players," Hogenmiller, who acknowledged he was not at the game Monday, told the newspaper.

    Still, the A's beefed up security for Tuesday night's game and the remainder of the series -- and probably for the rest of the season. Several additional officers from the Oakland Police Department were brought in to assist the Coliseum's regular security staff, which was increased by 10 people in the visiting bullpen and dugout.

    Showalter said he was satisfied with the extra security presence and didn't want to rehash the incident. He apologized for the organization.

    "I'm not going to get into they said, we said," Showalter said. "We'll learn from last night, everybody concerned."

    Francisco spent much of the day at the team's hotel in San Francisco, but arrived at the ballpark nearly two hours after the first pitch, just in case the Rangers needed his services.

    They didn't.

    Francisco sat quietly eating dinner with his teammates after the Rangers' 12-9 win over the A's.

    When asked in Spanish for comment, he said, "No puedo" -- "I can't."

    Texas' Eric Young said after Tuesday's 12-9 win that Francisco's teammates were supporting him during this rough time.

    "Once you put the uniform on, you have a responsibility to each other between the lines," he said. "It was good to see the players on our team come out and focus after everything that happened last night."

    Texas owner Tom Hicks apologized Tuesday "for the conduct of some members of our club last night in Oakland."

    "Their behavior, especially the injury to a fan, was unacceptable. Even in a difficult or abusive environment, players should never be provoked into such actions," Hicks said in a statement.

    Last season, an Oakland fan was charged with assault after throwing a cell phone from the second deck that hit outfielder Carl Everett, then with the Rangers, in the back of the head.

    Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.