A 40-year-old Bronx man sitting behind home plate at a New York Mets-Atlanta Braves game at Shea Stadium on Friday, April 20 has been charged with temporarily blinding Atlanta’s pitcher and shortstop as they were on the field in the eighth inning by flashing a high-powered flashlight into their eyes.
The defendant’s alleged actions caused a temporary delay to the game.
“The defendant allegedly used a high-intensity flashlight that is more commonly used for tactical and self-defense purposes to interfere with the play of [the] game at Shea Stadium,” said District Attorney Richard A. Brown. “In a game in which the ball can travel upwards of 110 miles per hour, the defendant’s alleged actions were dangerous to both spectators and players. This was definitely not the defendant’s most shining moment.”
Frank Martinez was charged with interference with a professional sporting event and second degree reckless endangerment. If convicted, he faces up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
The district attorney said that, according to the charges, sometime around 10:15 p.m. on April 20 while Braves pitcher Tim Hudson was pitching to the Mets pinch hitter Endy Chavez in the eighth inning at Shea Stadium, the defendant purposely shined a powerful light into eyes of Hudson and Braves shortstop Edgar Renteria from his seat behind home plate.
Second base umpire Paul Emmel called time out and alerted security that the defendant’s alleged actions were causing temporary blindness to the two Atlanta players and himself. The defendant was escorted from his seat and taken to Shea Stadium’s security office. A small, streamline flashlight was allegedly found in his backpack.
The New York City Council passed the interference with a professional sporting event law in 2003 after fashion designer Calvin Klein stepped out onto the basketball court at Madison Square Garden in March 2003 to speak with player Latrell Sprewell while a Knicks game was in progress.
John McCarthy, 38, of Clifton, New Jersey, was the first person charged under the law when he ran onto the field during a Mets game at Shea Stadium on May 4, 2004, carrying a sign that read “Howard Stern: Here’s Johnny.” McCarthy pleaded guilty in August 2004 and was sentenced to eight weekends in jail, fined $2,000 and ordered to serve three years’ probation, during which he was prohibited from going to Shea Stadium.