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Thursday, September 2, 1999
Lawton, fan both apologize

Associated Press

TORONTO -- Minnesota Twins outfielder Matt Lawton will not be charged after being caught on videotape spitting at a teenage fan at SkyDome.

"The investigation is over and done with," Sgt. David Bowen said. "The two have exchanged letters that apologize to one another."

Their disagreement took place during the seventh inning of the Twins' 14-3 victory over Toronto on Tuesday night. Lawton, while running down a foul ball, was heckled by several fans. According to published reports, when a 16-year-old made a particularly insulting remark, Lawton spit toward him.

The fan then threw an empty cup at Lawton as the outfielder returned to his position.

"Your next paycheck is coming to me," the spectator yelled back at Lawton, according to the Star Tribune of Minneapolis.

The two were caught on videotape by TSN. The tape appears to show Lawton spitting toward the fan, but is inconclusive as to whether the fan was hit. The fan reportedly claims he was struck in the face. The tape also shows the fan made what appeared to be an obscene gesture to Lawton before the outfielder spit.

Police Sgt. Peter Harmsen said he received a call Wednesday night from the Twins telling him that they had settled the matter with the boy's family. He also talked to the boy, who said he would no longer press charges.

"When I do something wrong there's always punishment involved. I just want to make sure this doesn't happen again," Harmsen said the boy told him when he was deciding whether to press charges or not.

"I'm satisfied there was an assault, but you need a complainant to go to court," Harmsen said.

However, Harmsen said the league told him they were planning on disciplining Lawton.

The Star Tribune reported Lawton has been told by the Twins not to comment on the matter, but did say Wednesday that "It takes a lot to make me snap."

When asked if the fan made a racial slur, Lawton, who is black, declined to comment.

"(Lawton) was taking a lot of abuse from the punks out there," said a man sitting nearby. "But it was nothing personal, it was just stuff like 'you suck' when there was a fly ball."