Minor league game stopped after benches clear three times


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – A minor league baseball game between the Birmingham Barons and Jacksonville Suns was halted after seven innings after benches cleared three times.

Barons manager Chris Cron pulled his team off the field in the eighth inning of the Double-A game Saturday after reliever Eduardo Sierra threw a pitch behind the Suns’ Matt Kemp, emptying the benches for the third time in the Suns’ 11-5 win.

“I’ve been in the game a long time and I’ve never seen anything like this,” Cron said told The Birmingham News. “It was out of hand. Nobody was in control. So I took my guys off the field.”

Trouble began when Jacksonville starter Spike Lundberg threw a pitch over the head of the Barons’ Corey Smith in the sixth. Smith pointed his bat at Lundberg and the two traded words before players surged from both dugouts.

At the end of the inning, Smith returned to the field and again exchanged words with Lundberg, leading the benches to empty again. At one point, Cron was hit in the face by a Suns player, according to David Wilder, director of player personnel for the Chicago White Sox, the Barons’ parent. Wilder said Cron was upset because the replacement umpires didn’t eject the player involved.

Wilder, who attended the game, said he would complain to Southern League commissioner Don Mincher about the umpiring. The regular umps have been on strike all season.

“This has gotten out of control,” he told the paper.

Suns manager John Shoemaker said his player did not intentionally punch anyone, including Cron.

“Nobody wins in a situation like that, when one team is trying to hit the other,” Shoemaker was quoted as saying.

AP-ES-05-07-06 1347EDT