SAN FRANCISCO -- The fatal stabbing of a Dodger fan near the San Francisco Giants’ ballpark on Wednesday left baseball fans on both sides of the rivalry baffled and saddened.
San Francisco police said Jonathan Denver, 24, of Fort Bragg, Calif., was wearing Dodgers gear when he and another person were attacked about 11:40 p.m. Wednesday. The incident occurred four blocks from AT&T Park, where 90 minutes earlier the Giants had beaten the Dodgers 6-4.
Denver died of his injuries; the other man was bruised after being beaten, police said. Two suspects have been detained.
Dodgers season ticket-holders Mauricio Guevara, 24, and Dee Audette, 45, flew from Los Angeles to San Francisco to watch the teams play and expected ribbing and maybe some hollering from Giants fans. On Tuesday, they had garlic fries thrown at them; Wednesday, ping pong balls.
“We just laughed it off because we didn’t want to have any problems,” Audette said. “We just want to have a good time.… We kind of expect this coming here because we are rivals, but it shouldn’t have to come to his death.”
Guevara said that when he has attended games at the ballpark in the past he felt like “you have to look over your shoulder” because “the crowd is really intense.” Guevara said he thinks many people come to the ballpark when the teams play not to watch the game but to “get drunk and talk crap to Dodgers fans.”
Audette, who has a tattoo of Vin Scully on her arm, said a security officer warned them to “be careful” when they began walking down the street in Dodgers gear Wednesday. Both fans said they thought the ballpark needed better security.
The stabbing was the second tragedy in recent years in the rivalry. In 2011, a brutal beating outside Dodger Stadium left Giants fan Bryan Stow with severe brain damage.
Giants fans largely scratched their heads Thursday in response to Denver’s death. For them, baseball here is as it should be -- fun, with some foul language and beer thrown in. But never violent.
Die-hard Giants fan J Wheeless, a 34-year-old San Francisco chef with a tattoo of the Giants’ logo on his arm, nursed a beer Thursday afternoon at Pete’s Tavern across the street from the ballpark.
Wheeless has always enjoyed a friendly, good-natured rivalry with opposing fans, he said.
“Every time I go to a game, there’s always a friendly banter between fans,” he said. “I’ve personally never encountered any hatred… I think this is a bunch of meatheads and ignorant individuals.”
Walking past the ballpark with friends on an unseasonably warm day, Quentan Park said the stabbing was “sort of a black eye” for San Francisco.
Park, 46, planned to watch Thursday’s game at home and said the baseball scene at the park usually involves “a lot of colorful language,” and that’s about it. He said it seemed like the attackers used the rivalry “as an excuse to get in a fight.”
Denver, his father, his father’s girlfriend, his brother and a friend left Wednesday’s game during the 8th inning and went to a nearby bar, San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr said. They were walking down 3rd Street toward Harrison Street, about four blocks from the ballpark, when they encountered a group of people, Suhr said.
“There was a back-and-forth about the Giants-Dodgers rivalry, which deteriorated into a physical fight,” Suhr said. The attackers fled and two were taken into custody a few blocks away.
Denver is the son of a security guard who worked for the Dodgers, officials confirmed Thursday.