MLB

Fan banned for life after hitting pitcher

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP)

A fan has been banned for life from Richmond Flying Squirrels home games after a foul ball he threw back onto the field hit the opposing team's pitcher.

The ball thrown from the upper deck along the third base line struck Reading (Pa.) Phillies pitcher J.C. Ramirez in the left leg Tuesday night.

The Double-A game was stopped briefly and the unidentified fan was removed. Ramirez remained in the game but gave up RBI singles to the next two hitters before leaving.

Flying Squirrels spokesman Anthony Oppermann declined to identify the fan.

''One of the ground rules for the stadium is you can't throw objects onto the field at any time,'' Oppermann said Thursday. ''He threw a ball onto the field, and worse yet it struck a player.''

Ramirez, a 22-year-old prospect in the Philadelphia Phillies organization, said he hadn't decided whether to press charges.

Todd Parnell, the Squirrels' vice president and chief operating officer, said the fan told stadium security he'd seen balls thrown back on the field following opponents' home runs at Chicago Cubs games and that he wasn't trying to hit anybody.

''But the bottom line is the field is sacred,'' Parnell said. ''That shouldn't happen, and it won't happen here. We won't tolerate it.''

An e-mail apology was forwarded from the fan to Reading's manager, Parnell said. The Squirrels didn't disclose the fan's identity and Reading spokesman Tommy Viola didn't immediately return a telephone message Thursday.

In addition to the lifetime ban, the fan also cannot attend any other event at the Richmond ballpark.

''Our fans have been tremendous,'' Oppermann said. ''I think they realize that was just poor judgment by one fan. I don't think in any way it embodies what our fans are like here in Richmond.''

Director of broadcasting Jon Laaser suggested that if fans are lucky enough to catch a foul ball, ''put it in your pocket and cherish the souvenir.''

Richmond, an affiliate of the San Francisco Giants, is in its debut season.

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