On April 13 this year, Andrew Robert Rector could be found sleeping in the fourth inning of an Yankees v. Red Sox game, which was spotted by a camera man while filming the game. After the image went up on TV, announcers John Kruk and Dan Shulman allegedly went on "an unending verbal crusade" against Yankees fan Rector, which prompted the used car salesman to file a $10 million defamation lawsuit against the announcers, ESPN and Major League Baseball. Yes, this is for real.
In the lawsuit filed last Thursday in Bronx Supreme Court (which was chock full of typos), it states that Rector "suffered substantial injury as a result of the defendants' defamatory statement, including but not limited to character and reputation, mental anguish, loss of future income and loss of earning capacity." Rector also stated that there were millions of people watching the game as the announcers allegedly "unleased [an] avalanche of disparaging words" against him, including "stupor, fatty, unintelligent, stupid" to describe him. The suit also states:
The defendant Major League Baseball continually repeated these vituperative utterances against the plaintiff on the major league baseball web site the next day. These words and its insinuations presented the plaintiff as symbol of anything but failure. The defendant MLB.com continued the onslaught to a point of comparing the plaintiff to someone of a confused state of mind, disgusted, disgruntled and unintelligent and probably intellectually bankrupt individual. ... The information presented by the defendant in website publication was presented in a way that generates false and misleading advertisement about about and concerning the plaintiff and this inflicted great mental anguish and distress which the defendant should know is a derivative of such false public exposure especially to hundreds of millions of people that may have listened or watched the defendant commentary.
In the suit, Rector also claims that ESPN, MLB and the announcers allegedly published "negligently or maliciously" statements about him, including, via Court House News:
- Plaintiff is unintelligent and stupid individual
- Plaintiff is not worthy to be fan of the New York Yankees
- Plaintiff is a fatty cow that need two seats at all time and represent symbol of failure
- Plaintiff is a confused disgusted and socially bankrupt individual
- Plaintiff is confused individual that neither understands nor knows anything about history and the meaning of rivalry between Red Sox and New York Yankee
- Plaintiff is so stupid that he cannot differentiate between his house and public place by snoozing throughout the fourth inning of the Yankee game
A YouTube video shows a clip of the game in question, but doesn't actually include a lot of the statements that Rector says the announcers allegedly said about him.
In the clip, Kruk and Shulman poke fun at Rector. This is their conversation, via KSWT:
Kruk - This is not the place you come to sleep but tell you what, how comfortable is that? Probably won't have any neck problems tomorrow.
Shulman - Is that guy to his left his buddy who is just letting him sleep or is he here alone?
Kruk - Maybe that's his buddy and he likes him a lot better when he's asleep.
Shulman - I think the other guy is really more concerned with the food and the game.
Kruk - Chicken fingers are a special item at the ballpark, and why share? Get 'em when he's asleep so he won't ask for one.
Shulman- We'll have to see how long this guys out for.
Kruk - It's only the 4th inning. You don't think he can sleep through...
Shulman - Did he sleep through the [Carlos] Beltran homer? I mean 45,000 people stand up and cheer, and he sleeps through it?
Kruk - You would think it'd be tough to but he seemed comfortable. It didn't look like he just started to sleep.
Shulman - Not a cousin? Not a relative?
Then, the video ends, cutting off the rest of the conversation. According to the New York Post, the conversation continued with Kruk replying to Shulman's last question with, "No, I don't think so, but you never know. I didn't get a good look at him because of the head tilt. But I mean physically he could be, yeah."
At this point, the New York Yankees and Major League Baseball have not publicly commented on Rector's lawsuit. According to the New York Post, ESPN released the following statement in response to Rector's suit: "The comments attributed to ESPN and our announcers were clearly not said in our telecast. The claims presented here are wholly without merit."
Image: Major League Baseball