The story making the rounds is that slugger Albert Belle deliberately shoved a Baltimore police sergeant during a game last week. The Orioles and police describe it more as a brushback.
Nevertheless, the on-field incident during the Cleveland game last Friday prompted a meeting between police and the Orioles in which both agreed to "characterize it as an inadvertent brush," said Orioles spokesman Bill Stetka.
"Both the club and the police believe it is not an issue," the team spokesman added. "It has gotten totally blown out of proportion."
The incident occurred as Belle was jogging to the dugout between innings. A police sergeant had already emerged from the dugout and was standing at his position, facing the crowd between home plate and first base.
Maj. John McEntee, head of the tactical unit that runs the stadium detail, said the sergeant apparently was standing in Belle's route. The player, who has several set routines, takes the same path when running back and forth between the field and dugout.
McEntee said that Belle had politely asked the sergeant to move a bit earlier in the game, but said the officer either didn't hear him or misunderstood. The next time, Belle accidentally touched the sergeant as he ran by.
"Belle's arm brushed against the side and the arm of the sergeant's," McEntee said.
Stetka said the stories about the incident, circulating among city officers and on local radio stations, are false. Police officers assigned to games try to be as invisible as possible. As for Belle, Stetka said: "He's very much a creature of routine."
Pub Date: 9/10/99