Former big leaguer Offerman arrested for melee

Updated: August 15, 2007, 9:37 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- Jose Offerman was having a pretty good summer.

Then in a flash, things went flying out of control.

Looking for a last chance in the majors, the two-time All-Star turned violent at a minor league game Tuesday night. Hit by a fastball, Offerman charged the mound with his bat and swung at least twice, striking the opposing pitcher and catcher.

Offerman, playing for the Long Island Ducks, was arrested on assault charges. The independent Atlantic League suspended him indefinitely Wednesday and expected to make a final decision by the end of the week.

"It was one of those moments that you want to forget. I lost it for about 10 seconds," Offerman told the Connecticut Post. "That's what happened to me. I didn't have any intentions and I feel sorry for what happened and the way it happened."

Bridgeport catcher John Nathans got a concussion that's likely to sideline him for the rest of the season. Pitcher Matt Beech wound up with a broken finger.

"I called [Atlantic League executive director] Joe Klein immediately after the incident and told him what had occurred on the field," Bridgeport Bluefish CEO Mary-Jane Foster told the Connecticut Post. "And I have asked that the Atlantic League suspend Jose Offerman from the league for life."

Jose Offerman
AP Photo/Connecticut Post, Christian AbrahamBridgeport Bluefish catcher John Nathans, right, tried to stop Jose Offerman from hitting Bluefish pitcher Matt Beech with a bat. Beech broke a finger and Nathans was hit in the head in the attack.

Video clips and pictures of Offerman's attack drew attention all over.

"Did you see that?" said Minnesota star Torii Hunter, who said he's been friends with Offerman before and after he played for the Twins. "There's demons in everybody.

"Some people snap. Was it hot there, or something? Did the guy say something about his mama? You take a bat out there, you can get blackballed from baseball. That's deep."

Offerman did not accompany the Ducks to Wednesday night's game. Klein, the league's executive director and a former general manager in Texas, Cleveland and Detroit, said he got a busy signal when calling Offerman's cell phone.

"I've never been so surprised in my life," Beech said, cradling a bandaged right hand. "As soon as he got hit in the calf, he raised the bat above his head and ran toward me to hit me with the bat."

The rampage left some baseball fans thinking about the 1965 altercation in which Hall of Fame pitcher Juan Marichal hit Dodgers catcher John Roseboro over the head with the bat.

Offerman last played in the majors in 2005 with the New York Mets. He batted .273 during his 15 seasons in the majors and was an All-Star infielder in 1995 with the Dodgers and in 1999 with Boston.

"You don't want to see anybody charge the mound, much less when they're coming out there with a bat or throwing a helmet at you," Mets pitcher Tom Glavine said.

"He's about as quiet a teammate as I ever played with. The fact that happened is, to say surprising is probably an understatement," he said.

Added Mets manager Willie Randolph: "Jose always seemed like he was a pretty calm, mild-mannered kind of guy. He didn't say a whole lot."

"The guys that you think would possibly do something silly like that, you don't think he would be one of those guys," he said.

At 38, Offerman was hoping a strong showing with the Ducks might boost his career. He was hitting .335, and sent the first pitch of Tuesday night's game sailing into the net beyond the left-field fence for a home run.

When he came up again the next inning, he got hit in the left leg by Beech's second pitch.

That's when Offerman went wild.

"I knew it was intentional because the catcher, he said something to me, and when he hit me I realized he did it on purpose," Offerman said. "I overreacted, I ran to the mound with my bat in my hand."

Nathans was hit when he came running out to protect his pitcher. Beech was left with a broken middle finger on his glove hand.

"He swung the first time at my head and it was kind of like a helicopter follow-through, and I believe that is when John got hit in the back of the head," Beech said.

Offerman said he never meant to hit Nathans, and plans to apologize to everyone involved.

"If he got hit it was because he tried to run behind me and take the bat and that was an accident," Offerman said. "I don't mean to hit him. I was facing the pitcher and I never went to hit the guy."

The game was delayed about 20 minutes and Offerman, Beech and Bridgeport manager and former major league pitcher Tommy John were ejected.

City police, providing security during the game, arrested Offerman. He was charged with two counts of second-degree assault. Offerman posted $10,000 bond and is due in Bridgeport Superior Court Aug. 23.

Beech, also a former big leaguer, might be able to make his next start. He will talk to league officials before deciding how to handle the legal case. He said he felt he was assaulted.

"Absolutely," he said. "The man came at my head with a bat."

Nathans tried to keep playing, but left the game with nausea and collapsed in the dugout. He was back at the ballpark Wednesday, with a hospital ID tag still on his wrist, but couldn't coherently answer questions. He's scheduled to undergo more tests Thursday.

Long Island won the game 13-12.

Asked whether Offerman should have expected an inside pitch after homering, John chose his words carefully.

"When I played, yeah, but nowadays, I don't know. I couldn't say," he said.

Beech said he's played against Offerman for years, but hadn't spoken to him.

"I've never hit him before," Beech said. "I've always pitched inside to him, and I've always thrown him a lot of off-speed cutters."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.