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NY Fans Slam Indians Fans’ Taunts

October 14, 1998

NEW YORK (AP) _ Yankees fans had a message for their counterparts in Cleveland on Tuesday night: Hey, don’t talk about a guy’s dead mom.

Indians fans taunted David Wells about his mother as he warmed up on Sunday, and back in the Bronx for Game 6 of the AL championship series the fans hoped for the sweetest kind of revenge _ a trip to the World Series.

``It’s like a family in New York,″ said John Mannino of Brooklyn as he shouted at Indians fielders. ``All the fans stand behind their players. ... Tonight’s going to be the end of the Cleveland Indians.″

Indeed it was as New York closed out the series with a 9-5 victory. Yankees fans serenaded the Indians with chants of ``1948! 1948!″ to remind them of the last time Cleveland won a World Series.

Even in the Yankee Stadium bleachers, where obscene taunts are the stuff of legend, fans said personal attacks like the one Wells described receiving at Jacob’s Field were out of line.

``It’s hard in New York; it’s tough here. But that would never happen in the Bronx,″ said Al Cuomo of Brick, N.J. ``You just don’t talk about anyone’s mother.″

Indians pitcher Charles Nagy got a preview of the fans’ payback when he arrived at the stadium.

``We’re going to light you up tonight, Chuckie,″ one fan shouted.

Other fans said they were determined to prove Indians outfielder David Justice wrong. Justice, who was greeted by loud boos and chants of ``No Justice,″ had said that Yankees fans could only be rougher on opposing players if they ``brought Uzis″ to the game.

``That’s not what this baseball stadium is about,″ said Kevin Killarney, a firefighter whose ladder company is based near the stadium. ``This is a great place to play ball.″

In response to Justice, fans in one section of the stadium hung pictures of an Uzi with every strikeout by pitcher David Cone. Others marked strikeouts by hanging strawberries to honor outfielder Darryl Strawberry, who is recovering from cancer surgery.

One sign hanging from second deck on third-base side said, ``Welcome to the Jungle!″ Another in the upper deck in left field said, ``Welcome to the Bronx Zoo.″

With the Yankees hoping to win Game 6 and go to the World Series, the fans were as emotional and loud as ever.

``It’s electric,″ said Tony Perdichizzi of Mohegan Lake, N.Y. ``With this crowd here at Yankee Stadium ... they’re behind the team all the time, but when you’re in the playoffs, it’s tremendous.″

Most in the stands admitted that Yankee Stadium regulars had earned their reputation for toughness, but they said the Cleveland supporters had gone way too far when they made fun of Wells’ mother, who died of cancer in January 1997.

``Definitely out of line,″ Killarney said. ``You can root and you can be upset about plays ... but no fan has the right to cross that line. ... Come on, it’s terrible.″

Sarah Chorzempa, a student at Fordham University who was cheering the Yanks from the bleachers, said the taunts in Cleveland might make her a little rowdier.

``It’s wrong when people ridicule players on a personal level,″ she said. ``Here, Yankees fans are trying to heckle, rough up the other team a little. We’re not trying to affect their concentration.

``If I was close enough to one of their players, I don’t know if I would make fun of his mother, but I’d let him have it.″