The family of 55-year-old Joseph Bauer, who was beaten at Sunday's Ravens game and hospitalized, reported encouraging signs from the hospital Tuesday.
The Jessup man remains in critical condition with a brain injury, but he has given a thumbs-up at the request of doctors.
"We have been encouraged by some signs we believe indicate he recognizes his wife," said Susan Bauer, his sister. "The trauma doctor said she is 'cautiously optimistic' about his progress and he is trending in the right direction."
Joseph Bauer, however, continues to breathe on a respirator, she said. The Ravens season-ticket holder suffered a severe brain injury at the game.
Police charged two men from New York with assault, and Ravens Coach John Harbaugh called the alleged attack "absolutely inexcusable."
"Whatever security has to be out there, whatever has to be done, will be done," Harbaugh said Monday. "This is just not what we're about, and we're not going to have it at M&T Bank Stadium."
Scott Smith, 30, of Mount Vernon, N.Y., and Andrew Nappi, 31, of Eastchester, N.Y., were each charged with first- and second-degree assault. They did not return messages seeking comment.
Both were released after posting bond: $50,000 for Smith and $25,000 for Nappi.
Nappi told police that the men argued, and Bauer threw a bottle that hit Smith in the head, police said in charging documents. Only plastic and aluminum bottles are sold at the stadium.
Nappi told police he punched Bauer in the face, police said. Bauer's wife, Sharon, told police Smith shoved Bauer to the ground and he hit his head.
Bauer was knocked unconscious.
A witness, Gary Greggs, confirmed the account to officers, police wrote in charging documents. Greggs could not be reached Monday.
The details of the argument remained unclear. Police said Nappi and Smith were fans of the visiting Oakland Raiders.
"We're just left in shock that something this stupid could happen, and so senseless," Susan Bauer said. "I don't know who these people are. I don't know why this happened. I just hope they realize they have altered all of our lives beyond anything that we could have imagined."
She said her family was called Monday by Ravens President Dick Cass.
"We're very touched by the outpouring of sympathy and support," she said.
She said her brother is a former Marine who works at Schuster Concrete. He has two grown children — a daughter who is a dentist in the Navy and a son who also works at Schuster Concrete — and has been a Ravens fan since the team came to Baltimore.
"Here's a man and a family that have been longtime season ticket holders, that know the people here that work in the building, that love the Ravens and have been to countless numbers of games at M&T Bank Stadium without incident," Harbaugh said. "Then all of a sudden, there's an incident where a gentleman is assaulted by somebody. That's just not what we're about. We're a family. It's a family atmosphere."
Smith is a rookie firefighter in the Mount Vernon Fire Department, Chief Al Everett said. He has been suspended without pay pending an investigation.
Everett said the department was praying for Joseph Bauer and his family.
"It's a shame that this thing happened," Everett said.
As a firefighter Smith won awards for "enthusiasm and esprit de corps," Everett said.
"I found him hardworking and conscientious. We were all surprised by this," he said. "We also feel very sorry for, and are concerned about, Scott and his family."
The incident recalled an attack on a Yankees fan at an Orioles game three years ago.
Matthew Fortese of Hagerstown was watching the game with a date when he was taunted by two men. Fortese was wearing a Yankees cap.
When the men tossed a beer at him around the seventh inning, Fortese confronted them. Gregory Fleischman of Edgewater punched Fortese, prosecutors said, sending him to the concrete below.
Fortese was in a coma for months and suffered brain damage.
Fleischman accepted a plea offer of 10 days in jail and $15,000 restitution to the victim. Under the plea offer, he did not admit guilt.
Michael Bell pleaded guilty to second-degree assault and was sentenced to five years in prison, with all but three days suspended, and five years probation.
Rodney Scott, a Raiders booster club organizer, said the fight Sunday marred the Ravens-Raiders matchup. He said Nappi and Smith were not members of the club.
"Who were these two guys?" he asked.
Susan Bauer said her family at Maryland Shock Trauma Center to comfort her brother and his wife.
"I think after this," Susan Bauer said, "we'll all think twice before going to a game."
Baltimore Sun reporters Carrie Wells and Edward Lee contributed to this article.