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October 31, 2012

Wezen-Ball

World Series Riots

by Larry Granillo

The San Francisco Giants four-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers on Sunday—their second world championship in three years—was marred by news out of the bay Sunday night and Monday morning of isolated riots around the city.

From USA Today:

Most went home within an hour or so. However several small groups left the area and began to create havoc around the city's main thoroughfare, Market Street, in the Mission neighborhood and near AT&T Park where the Giants play. Several fires were set in the middle of streets and photos and videos of a city bus burning were posted on Twitter.

Police scanners described a group of as many as 100 rioters setting fires, smashing windows, throwing bottles at police and damaging cars. By 2:30 a.m. police were reporting that the rioters had scattered, and city crews were cleaning up the burned material and broken glass from the streets so that they could be reopened in time for the morning rush hour.

It was an embarrassing way for fans to celebrate their team's ultimate victory, especially only 16 months after a much more dangerous and costly riot in Vancouver, British Columbia, following the Vancouver Canucks' Stanley Cup loss. But riots following championship-clinching games, while not exactly common, aren't unheard of either. Here's a brief, incomplete look at World Series-related riots through the years.

1971, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
The Pirates defeated the Baltimore Orioles in seven games on Sunday night. This led to a crazy, scary night in Pittsburgh (source):

A World Series victory celebration Sunday night turned into a wave of destruction, looting and sex-in-the-streets. Nearly a hundred arrests were reported and at least that many others were treated at city hospitals.

Newsman reported witnessing two apparent assaults on young women—in full view of hundreds who cheered the assailants—and there were displays of public lovemaking, nudity and drinking.

(Note: At least one paper later called the happenings in 1971 "the 'riot' after the Pirates' 1971 World Series victory—which proved to be far from that...". I could find no articles explaining what he meant, however.)

1977, New York, New York
It was described by some as "at first, only scattered incidents of violence", but the Yankees 1977 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers led to a bit more excitement than that by the end of the night (source):

Mounted police were overwhelmed in the efforts to stem the tide of roaring fans who tore up the turf, ripped up bases, which had been screwed down, and threw hard plastic seats. Frustrated, the police began to fight back, and one fan was trampled by a horse but appeared unhurt.

The scene outside the stadium became turbulent as the fans departed. Police chased some fans up 161st Street and curious crowds followed. The crowd chanted for Reggie, horns blew, and mobs roamed the streets.

1984, Detroit, Michigan
The Tigers first World Series victory since defeating Bob Gibson and the Cardinals in 1968 ended in an ugly night (source):

One man was shot to death, dozens were injured and at least 34 were arrested when World Series victory celebrators turned violent, torching cars, battling with riot-ready police and leaving streets littered with broken glass today.

Hundreds of people still roamed downtown early today, remnants of the thousands of Detroit fans who poured into the streets when the Tigers beat the San Diego Padres 8-4 Sunday to win their first series appearance since 1968.

A police car and a taxicab were torched in hours of violence that forced authorities to close a park, an office complex and freeways leading downtown.

2007, Boston, Massachusetts
It was Boston's second World Series victory in four years after their 86-year drought. While it was a mostly orderly night, some bad eggs were discovered (source):

Some fans climbed trees or streetlamps, shouting at police as celebrations briefly turned violent. A Boston police spokeswoman said 37 arrests were made. At least one person was treated for a head wound, local WBZ TV said.

Rioting fans smashed automobile windshields, trampled on cars, hurled bottles at police and lit small fires but these were extinguished by emergency authorities, local TV showed.

Clearly, baseball fans have been dangerously idiotic for years, but that does not excuse the behaviors of the fans in San Francisco or anywhere else. Hopefully, this is the last time we have to hear about such behavior, World Championships or otherwise.

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