What do you think of when you read the names Britt Gaston and Cliff Courtenay? Nothing?
How about if I add Hank Aaron and 715?
I imagine by now you would imagine that iconic scene of two kids catching up with Hammering Hank as he rounded second base after hitting his then record breaking home run. As he made his way around third, the kids had already given him a congratulatory pat on the back, and tried to make their escape.
Ultimately, they failed, and were arrested. Any charges held against them were dropped the next day.
This is not the case for 32 year old, Rafael Diaz, who ran onto the field and joined the huddle after New York Mets pitcher, Johan Santana, threw the first no-hitter in Mets history earlier this year. Wearing his Gary Carter jersey, Diaz added to the huddle around Santana while photographers snapped away.
Of course he was caught and arrested. Yesterday a judge ordered him to pay $4,000 to the Mets and $1,000 to New York City coupled with 100 hours of community service.
That’s not all.
The judge banned Diaz from returning to Citi Field for one year, however the Mets have already banned him for life.
I understand today’s society is different than when Gaston and Courtenay ran on to the field in 1974, but a lifetime ban from a team who this fan is so clearly passionate about? It seems a bit much to me.
We all make mistakes.
When visiting Busch Stadium in St. Louis with some family several years ago, my cousin and I inquired about what the penalties were for running onto the field. At that time it was a $500 fine and a night in jail. My cousin thought it was worth it, however her husband did not. Needless to say neither one of us kicked up any infield dirt that day. But we contemplated it.
And that was just a regular day game. If it were a no-hitter, I may have had to make that one quick phone call to someone.
I really don’t think there are going to be any “wanted” or “have you seen this person” posters hanging at the entrance gates. So Rafael Diaz, you go buy your tickets on Stub Hub and watch your team.