Fans who rush a professional sports field have to weigh the pros and cons — a few moments of glory offset by spending time in a jail cell and possibly facing criminal charges.
But while the cape-wearing, clad-in-Batman-undies spectator who disrupted the Orioles' Opening Day victory has received plenty of notoriety — 100,000 views and counting for a video posted to YouTube, a write-up on the sports blog Deadspin and being a topic of discussion on morning radio — he wasn't charged for the game-halting stunt. This despite a sign that flashed on the Camden Yards scoreboard during his performance that reminded other would-be runners that "violators will be arrested and charged."
- Document: Opening Day Batman police report
- Baltimore Crime Beat blog
- Baltimore Sun coverage: Orioles in the 2014 playoffs
- 20 key moments from the Orioles' season [Pictures]
- Orioles celebrate American League East title [Pictures]
- Orioles in September 2014 [Pictures]
See more photos »
- Baltimore Orioles
- Oriole Park at Camden Yards
See more topics »
Police and Orioles officials referred questions to the Baltimore state's attorney's office, which said the man's release without being charged was the result of a miscommunication.
"This is a misstep that we will not make again," said Mark Cheshire, a spokesman for State's Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein. "We cannot overemphasize that it is a crime to trespass on the field at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and we will prosecute individuals who go on the field in violation of the law in the future."
Mark Harvey, the 26-year-old Severn man named in a police report on the Opening Day incident, didn't entirely escape consequences. He sat in jail for 13 hours, according to authorities, and the Orioles say he will be banned from the stadium for life.
Orioles spokeswoman Monica Barlow expressed concern over the charging oversight, saying the team "would always want anyone who trespasses on the field to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Otherwise, you'll have more people doing this." She declined to comment further.
Harvey didn't immediately respond to a message sent to what appears to be his Facebook account, but according to the police report, Opening Day was his birthday. His Facebook profile picture shows him running on the field, and he posted what appeared to be a "before" photo of him in his cape and Batman Speedo at home. Fans at the game applauded the stunt, and he received rave reviews online.
"This is my sister's friend," one person wrote in a comment posted to one of the videos. "He just spent the night in jail, released the next morning, that's all. Hilarious."
But others annoyed by the spectacle were dismayed to hear that he got off with a slap on the wrist.
"THAT'S IT?? … one night in the cooler?" someone responded.
"[People] like this should be sentenced to a month in jail," another said.
One video showed Harvey dancing on the outfield wall and flinging dollar bills from his shorts before taking the field. Someone encourages him to, "Go, dude, go, dude," before he dismounts onto the warning track.
It took a while for the antics to come to an end, as police are instructed not to give chase so they don't become part of a spectacle. The officers instead try to surround trespassers and tackle them when they're cornered. One of Baltimore's finest gave Harvey a healthy shoulder check before officers placed him in handcuffs.
Once detained, trespassers are taken to a holding cell underneath the stadium and transferred to Central Booking, where detainees can spend hours before being released.
Cheshire, with the prosecutor's office, declined to discuss what exactly the miscommunication entailed.
Baltimore police and prosecutors also couldn't provide information on previous trespassing incidents and outcomes, but few have made news in recent years. A teenager led police last year on a rather lengthy chase — he ran around on the field, jumped back into the stands, then ran back onto the field — but because he was a juvenile, police didn't release his name and the outcome of the case was unknown.
In other cities, trespassers have been hit hard.
A man who streaked naked at the New York Mets' Citi Field in 2009 after making a bet with his boss, according to reports, was charged with third-degree criminal trespass and interference with a professional sporting event. He was fined $3,000 and sentenced to 20 days of community service later that year, but he told ESPN that his dash cost him nearly $20,000 in fines, lost work and legal fees.
Perhaps more costly, the man — who has a tattoo of the Mets logo on his chest — was blacklisted for life. "I can't even go to spring training," he said. "I had no idea the legal ramifications. I just wanted a good story to tell the grandkids."
In Philadelphia, 17-year-old Steve Consalvi, who was famously Tasered by a stadium employee in 2010, was charged with criminal trespass and received six months' probation and 80 hours of community service in juvenile court.
The next night, a 34-year-old man ran on the field, was booed by the crowd and was charged with defiant trespass, disorderly conduct and narcotics possession. The outcome of that case was unclear.
"We prosecute all people coming onto the field to the maximum penalty," said Bonnie Clark, vice president of communications for the Philadelphia Phillies.