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Old 04-21-07, 10:14 PM
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Mets fan charged of trying to distract Atlanta players during game

Mets fan charged of trying to distract Atlanta players during game
April 21, 2007

NEW YORK (AP) -- A 40-year-old man arrested at Shea Stadium on Friday night is accused of trying to distract an Atlanta Braves pitcher and shortstop with a high-powered flashlight.

Frank Martinez was charged with interference with a professional sporting event and second-degree reckless endangerment, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said Saturday.

Authorities said Martinez flashed the powerful light at the players in the bottom of the eighth inning from his seat behind home plate. He was quickly ejected from the game.

"The defendant's alleged actions recklessly endangered the lives of players and spectators and caused a temporary delay to the game," Brown said.

The hullabaloo began at about 10:15 p.m. as the Braves were leading the Mets 7-0. Tim Hudson was on the mound facing Mets pinch-hitter Endy Chavez when, investigators said, Martinez turned the beam on the Braves pitcher and shortstop Edgar Renteria.

Renteria complained to umpire Paul Emmel, who then called time out and alerted security. The security officers removed Martinez and found a "a small, streamline flashlight" in his backpack, Brown said.

"You endanger some of the players out there. Somebody could get blinded. The ball's in play and the light's in their eyes, it's dangerous," Hudson said Saturday after Atlanta's 7-2 loss to the Mets.

Martinez was still jailed Saturday, and unavailable for comment. He was scheduled to remain behind bars until at least the evening, when he had an arraignment scheduled in Queens Criminal Court. Queens prosecutors said Martinez did not have a lawyer yet. If convicted, he faces up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

A law making it expressly illegal to interfere with a professional sporting event was passed by the city in 2003 following a disruptive incident involving fashion designer Calvin Klein.

Klein stepped onto the basketball court at Madison Square Garden in March 2003 to speak with player Latrell Sprewell while a Knicks game was in progress.

The Braves won Friday's game 7-3.

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