Baseball beating raises flag about fan violence

Bryan Stow in undated image
Bryan Stow in undated image
AP Photo/John Stow

LOS ANGELES - The San Francisco Giants will raise their World Series flag Friday before their first home game of the new season, but there will be some heavy hearts.

A Giants fan continued to be listed in critical condition Thursday night after he was beaten nearly to death outside Dodger Stadium March 31, CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker reports.

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The Dodgers' victory over the Giants in the opening day game turned to tragedy afterward in the parking lot. Forty-two-year-old Bryan Stow, father of two and lifelong Giants fan, was brutally beaten by two, as yet unidentified, L.A. fans apparently because he was wearing the jersey of the arch-rival Giants.

"We saw the victim, Bryan, get knocked to the ground, and he just fell over like a log," said Joe Lagano. "I saw blood behind his head, blood pouring out of his ear."

Stow has been in a coma for a week now and may never fully recover. As horrible as the attack was, violence at sporting events has become all too common.

Fan fights at baseball games in Miami, Detroit and Los Angeles, at football games in Oakland, Calif., and Washington, D.C., even at U.S. Open tennis matches in New York fill page after page on YouTube. Last season at a Philadelphia Phillies game, one fan, reportedly drunk, was charged with intentionally vomiting on a young girl and her father, who had asked him to stop cursing. Sports lovers say things are getting worse.

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"Sometimes people get a little bit too hyped, too overexcited and then they just want to do something crazy," one fan said.

Sports psychologists say there's more aggressive acting out by athletes on the field. And the fans?

"All they're doing is mirroring the behavior we see from the athletes," said sports psychologist Casey Cooper. "We're seeing behavior from coaches, and really they're just reflecting that. Aggression is getting out of control."

The Dodgers have hired former police chief William Bratton, credited with cutting crime in both Los Angeles and New York, to now make Dodger Stadium safe and family friendly.

"It's sickening," said Lagano. "You don't even want to go anymore."

Major League Baseball drew more than 73 million fans last year. Club owners want to keep them coming to watch teams play ball, not run away from yet another brawl in the stands.