Tampa Bay Rays

Man, 67, upset about Rays' Cuba trip, tosses beverages into dugout at McKechnie Field

A packed house as the Pittsburgh Pirates host the Boston Red Sox at McKechnie Field in Bradenton. 
 GRANT JEFFERIES/Bradenton Herald File Photograph
A packed house as the Pittsburgh Pirates host the Boston Red Sox at McKechnie Field in Bradenton. GRANT JEFFERIES/Bradenton Herald File Photograph gjefferies@bradenton.com

BRADENTON -- Having more security at McKechnie Field baseball games without damaging the relaxed atmosphere of baseball might be impossible.

But Saturday evening's incident during the Pittsburgh Pirates' spring game against the Tampa Bay Rays in which a 67-year-old man jumped a fence and hurled several containers of beer and soda into the visitor's dugout has given one local lawman pause for thought.

"You really didn't know what his intentions were," Lt. John Affolter of the Bradenton Police Department said of the trespassing fan who was identified by police as Heliodoro J. Guttierrez. "We are just fortunate he didn't have a weapon. But the incident seemed politically charged, and it could have been very dangerous."

Affolter said there are no plans now to beef up security at McKechnie Field because of the incident.

"We already have an officer in the home dugout," Affolter said.

An incident like Saturday's is quite unusual, but the Pirates are prepared for such events, Trevor Gooby, the Pirates' senior director of Florida operations, said Sunday.

"The safety of our fans, staff and players is always our number one priority," Gooby said. "While this is a very rare occurrence at McKechnie Field, we were pleased with the response of our security staff and the Bradenton Police Department. It is an unfortunate situation, but one in which we are prepared to handle."

During play in the seventh inning, Gutierrez, who will turn 68 on April 1, left his seat behind third base, jumped a short fence at McKechnie Field, walked into the grass in front of the Rays' dugout filled with players and coaches and hurled several containers of beer and soda against the back wall of the dugout, Affolter said Sunday.

"I was in the home dugout, and I had just relieved Detective Ben Piper who had come back from lunch break," Affolter said. "When we saw the fan jump, we both instantly started running. The fan was screaming."

Affolter and others speculate Gutierrez may be opposed to the Castro regime in Cuba and upset that the Rays made a recent trip there.

"He was speaking most in Spanish but with some English," Affolter said. "He was saying Castro was a murderer. I heard 'Castro' and 'murderer' in English."

By the time Affolter and Detective Piper got to third base, a member of the Pirates' grounds crew and Rays third base coach Charlie Montoyo had helped restrain Gutierrez.

"Nobody got hit," Tampa Bay pitcher Jake Odorizzi told The Associated Press. "Maybe some guys got wet."

The umpire had stopped play when the two policemen raced across the diamond.

Affolter took Gutierrez along the third base line and out of the park without resistance, Affolter said.

"I've worked games here for 23 years and I've never seen anything like it," Affolter said. "I've seen a streaker, I've seen a lot. I thought I'd seen it all."

No body was hurt during Gutierrez's brief activity, Affolter confirmed.

Gutierrez was arrested, but there was no booking information about him on the Manatee County Sheriff's Office website on Sunday afternoon.

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter@RichardDymond.