ST. LOUIS — A 17-year-old faces criminal charges for allegedly pointing a green laser at San Francisco pitcher Shane Loux during the seventh inning of Monday night’s Cardinals-Giants game at Busch Stadium.
And the fan was caught by none other than Cardinals manager Mike Matheny.
The incident occurred with Matt Holliday batting for the Cardinals in the bottom of the seventh inning. He jumped out of the batter’s box when he noticed the green laser on the back of Loux.
Holliday and umpire Marvin Hudson turned to the stands but couldn’t locate the culprit. Play continued until after the inning when Hudson approached Matheny, who also saw the green laser pointed toward the mound.
“‘It’s on my side so I’m going to keep looking,” Matheny said he told Hudson. “In between innings, I saw it glance across the ground again and I looked up and I caught the kid so I called security over and pointed him out and they went up and took care of it.”
Matheny made eye contact with the teen and pointed at him.
“I said, ‘I caught you,’ and he kind of froze up,” Matheny said. “I knew we only had a few minutes to get to them before they split and they tried taking off but fortunately security got to them first.
“It’s a crazy world right now and you start seeing lasers in big crowds, to me, I don’t think the kid knew the severity of what he was really doing. There were a couple things that could have gone bad there. It wasn’t like he did it the one time and was like, ‘Oh that probably wasn’t a good idea,’ because the whole dugout jumped up and tried to find him and then he kept doing it.”
The teen left the suite and ditched the laser pointer in a trash can as he tried to flee the scene. The only problem was that a Major League Baseball security representative was on his way to the suite and witnessed the whole thing.
The officer followed the teen and his two friends until a uniformed officer arrived and stopped them. The perpetrator was taken to a holding cell at Busch Stadium until Matheny came after the game and identified him as the one he saw pointing the laser.
“It’s very dangerous,” said Joe Walsh, the Cardinals director of security. “Not only the issue of a player could be distracted at the wrong time and Holliday, you saw his reaction, he literally jumped out of the box when he saw it and the umpire immediately stopped the game.
“The second issue, when you see something like that you wonder do we have a crazy guy in the building now? That’s a whole other issue. You have two mass shootings in the last two weeks and we’re dealing with somebody pointing a laser at people?”
Walsh confirmed that the 17-year-old was arrested and booked for a peace disturbance at an athletic event. Police hope to get charges brought from the city councilor’s office since it was a city ordnance violation.
Asked if he hoped police would pursue the matter further, Walsh said, “I would hope so because this is an issue that we take seriously. … From the baseball standpoint, it’s certainly dangerous for the players because if you happen to be up at bat and all of a sudden there’s a laser and whether its on the pitcher or at you, you’re going to be distracted and if that guy is throwing 95 mph, I sure as hell don’t want to be distracted.
“He obviously thought it was funny and there’s nothing funny about it.”
The Cardinals haven’t had any laser pointer issues at Busch Stadium since it opened in 2006 but have dealt with numerous instances of fans running on the field. Earlier this year, a fan halted play when he took off his clothes and ran naked in the outfield.
A July 2009 incident at Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia stopped play when a laser pointer was directed at Albert Pujols and others during a game between the Cardinals and Phillies.