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Pirates Simon's sausage beef is over

Friday, July 11, 2003

By Paul Meyer, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

MILWAUKEE -- Randall Simon won't forget the Pirates' visit to Miller Park this week.

For one thing, people won't let him. Nor will television. Or radio.

Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Randall Simon watches the last out against the Milwaukee Brewers in the ninth inning from the Pirates dugout, where he stayed the entire game yesterday. (Darren Hauck, Associated Press)
Click photo for larger image.

Yesterday, after Simon's morning meeting with authorities, everyone wanted to know what he was thinking Wednesday night when he hit a costumed contestant in the "Sausage Race," which is run after the sixth inning, with his bat.

The contestant, a 19-year-old woman who works for the Brewers as part of their "Super Team" fan-interaction group, stumbled and fell in front of the Pirates' dugout. Another racer, a 21-year-old woman also employed by the Brewers, tripped over the first racer and fell.

Both were treated at the stadium first aid station for scraped knees. Neither was at Miller Park yesterday at the Brewers' request.

Simon was arrested by Milwaukee County sheriff's deputies after the game, booked for battery and released early yesterday morning. The county sheriff's office fined Simon $432 for a disorderly conduct violation.

Simon said he will discuss paying the fine with his agent and lawyers. Assistant District Attorney Jon Reddin said there would be no criminal charges filed.

"The women were not interested in having him charged criminally," Reddin said.

In fact, the 19-year-old, Mandy Block, said all she wanted was to receive the bat Simon used to strike her and for him to autograph it.

"That's something right there," Simon said during a brief news conference before the Pirates left for Houston. "It makes me feel good. There's no hate or anything."

Block told a Milwaukee television station she is amazed at the huge reaction to the incident. "It just seems ridiculous -- it's like a big sausage getting hit by a bat causes all this controversy. It just seems kind of funny to me.

"It wasn't that big of a blow," she said. "I think just because I'm so small and it's such a big costume that I tumbled, and the reason I couldn't get up right away is because I couldn't get up. I wasn't like hurt so bad I couldn't get up. Luckily, someone helped me up."

After yesterday's game, Simon autographed bats for both women. The bats were accepted by Rick Schlesinger, the Brewers' executive vice president for business operations.

"Actions have consequences," Schlesinger said. "[Wednesday] night we saw the bad consequences. [Yesterday] we saw the positive consequences. He's apologized, and the Brewers certainly accept that apology. The Pirates have been a class act during this."

Simon, appearing contrite, was eager to explain his actions to reporters yesterday morning after a 10-minute meeting with Manager Lloyd McClendon.

"The first thing is, I want to apologize to her and to the fans of Milwaukee," Simon said. "I didn't have any intention of hurting anybody. I'm really sorry about it. It never should have happened like that. I'm not the type of person who hurts people.

"I sincerely apologize to her and to the city of Milwaukee. There wasn't any bad intention in what happened. I wasn't trying to knock her out. I was just going to tap the hat, you know, of the costume and you just keep going and finish off the race. I wasn't trying to make her fall. Unfortunately, she lost her balance. They were running very close to us. I thought they were trying to play with us.

"Even when she fell, I was going to try to help her get back up because that was not my intention, in my heart, for that to happen. It's not a good feeling when something like this happens. It's a bad incident, but I never meant for anything like this to happen."

Simon received some empathy from at least one of the Brewers' players yesterday.

"We've all probably done some things with mascots at one time in our careers," left fielder Geoff Jenkins said. "In [Philadelphia], with the Phanatic, it was almost like they encouraged it. It was like they wanted you to tackle him."

"You know, players play with the mascots all the time -- just like the mascots play with the players," Simon said.

Simon said he had no idea at the time the women were injured.

"After she fell, they got up and finished the race like normal," he said.

McClendon said he didn't see what happened.

"I had my back to the whole incident," he said. "I was talking with Pete [Mackanin, the Pirates' bench coach] trying to figure out our next move [in the game]."

Brewers Manager Ned Yost, who called Simon "a fun-loving guy," also didn't see Simon strike the participant. "I didn't see what happened. I looked and saw the weenies in a wad over there."

Simon pinch-hit for starting pitcher Kris Benson in the seventh inning Wednesday and was booed by fans behind the Pirates' dugout as he approached the plate.

"I was totally surprised," McClendon said. "I looked at Pete and said, 'He doesn't have any [bad] history here. Why did he get booed?' Now I know."

County sheriff's deputies questioned Simon after his pinch-hit appearance, then transported him in handcuffs to the county jail.

Simon, who didn't play yesterday, said he didn't sleep Wednesday night after being released.

"It was kind of tough," he said. "I've never been through a situation like this, and I never hurt anybody in my life. There was only one thing I could do -- just put it in the hands of God and let him do the rest. He knows what my intention was. I was just trying to relax as much as I could and just hoped and prayed that she was all right and that the incident won't be as big as it looks."

Ryan Borghoff, another costumed participant in Wednesday's race, said Simon "just hit the costume and she fell over. These things are so top-heavy that it doesn't take much."

The sausage race features four people dressed as an oversized bratwurst, a hot dog, an Italian sausage and a Polish sausage who run around the infield warning track.

Pirates outfielder Reggie Sanders thought the weight of the costume's head played a part in the fall. "It maybe made it look worse than it was. It was an unfortunate situation."

Wednesday night, Schlesinger said the incident was "one of the most despicable things I've seen in a ballpark in a long time. This is in no way a reflection on the Pirates. It's an insane act of a person whose conduct is unjustifiable. It sickened me to see it."

The Pirates issued a statement about the incident, which was featured on a lot of morning news and entertainment shows yesterday.

"The Pirates do not condone Randall Simon's behavior during [Wednesday] night's Pirates/Brewers game," the statement read. "The matter is currently in the hands of the Milwaukee authorities. The Pirates will also address this issue internally. The Pittsburgh Pirates apologize to the Milwaukee Brewers' organization and to the Brewers' fans for this unfortunate incident."

General Manager Dave Littlefield, reached yesterday afternoon, offered no additional comment.

McClendon said any disciplinary matters concerning Simon from the Pirates' standpoint will be handled internally. After McClendon met with Simon, he had a meeting with the entire team about an hour before yesterday's game, in which he stressed the sensitivity of the incident and that the Pirates don't "condone this type of action."

The Brewers' sausages and the Pirates' pierogies are scheduled to have home-and-home races when the teams play Aug. 15-17 at PNC Park and Aug. 22-24 at Miller Park. There is no indication those races will be scratched.

The sausage race went off as scheduled yesterday.

As the "sausages" broke from the starting line near the left-field corner, while receiving a standing ovation from the fans, Mackanin made sure all the Pirates' players were away from the railing in front of the dugout. The Pirates said they moved their players back because they were told a scene from the movie "Mr. 3000" would be filmed during the seventh inning, which it was.

As the "sausages" neared the Pirates' dugout, public address announcer Robb Edwards, who calls the race, said: "They're in front of the Pirate dugout!"

A split-second later, he said: "And they've passed the Pirate dugout safely!"


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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