August 14, 2019
Chris Krage had plans on celebrating his 44th birthday on Sunday night watching his favorite baseball team, the Phillies, who just happened to be visiting the stadium he lives nearby, Oracle Park, the home of the San Francisco Giants.
Though, it seems, someone may have gotten in the way of that birthday celebration in the third inning of the nationally televised game on ESPN — Phillies’ manager Gabe Kapler, who Krage claims had him ejected from Oracle in the third inning.
The Phillies, however, say Kapler wasn't the one who asked for Krage's ejection. Instead, the Phillies manager thinks that request might have come from one of his players.
“It’s a birthday I’ll never forget,” said Krage, an appliance technician who lives in San Jose, California, though is a lifelong Phillies’ fan, a devotion passed along by his father, who lived in the Philadelphia area. “I never miss a Phillies game when they come out here. I went to the first three games with my girlfriend and on Sunday I was there with my friend.”
On Sunday, Krage and his friend, JR Lara, were sitting in Row A, Seats 1 and 2 in Section 107 on the first base side, right beside the Phillies’ dugout.
“Let’s preface all of this, I don’t drink, I’ve been sober for three years, so I was in my right mind, I wasn’t some drunk guy yelling at Kapler,” Krage said. “I never once booed the players. I cheer for my guys. But I’ve had my frustrations with Gabe. I was calling him ‘a bum.’ The game starts on Sunday, and I booed Kapler, but cheered the rest of the team.”
With the Phillies looking to salvage a series split after the Giants took two of the first three games, San Francisco scored twice before starting pitcher Jake Arrieta even recorded an out.
This stirred Krage to yell, “Hey Kapler, way to motivate your team, you bum.”
That’s all he said, Krage claims.
It’s when Krage noticed a guy sitting across the aisle from him with a huge ring on his hand. Krage, who was wearing his 1993 John Kruk jersey, asked who he was. The guy said he was a teammate of Kruk’s on the 1993 Phillies, and identified himself as Phillie alum Tony Longmire, who pointed out Ricky Jordan, sitting two rows down.
According to Krage, Longmire said, “Kapler sucks, I can’t believe that he’s still part of the team.”
In the top of the third, the Phillies had runners on second and third with one out, when Kapler pinch hit for left fielder Sean Rodriguez with Corey Dickerson, who proceeded to pop out to third. That prompted Krage to voice his opinion, “Hey, Kapler finally made a great move.”
A minute later, security showed up and told Krage he needed to “settle down.”
"Some of the players got really pissed on behalf of Sean [Rodriguez]. One of them may have said something to a security guard. I never ask for fans to be ejected." — Gabe Kapler (via team spokesperson)
Lara, 39, noticed the whole Phillies team looked back when Krage spoke, which surprised both of them, considering they were involved in an important nationally televised game with possible playoff implications. Between the prime seats, parking and concessions, the cost on Sunday came to $713.20, Krage said.
All for three innings of baseball.
Lara confirms everything Krage said. Lara went further in saying one of the security guards said, “If the manager asks to remove you, then we’re going to remove you.”
“I never used one profanity,” Krage maintains. “I never verbally attacked (Kapler’s) family. I asked security what I did. I told them, ‘I love my team.’ The security guard told me, ‘I can hear you love your team, but it’s coming from the dugout. You need to settle down.’ After that, I settled down. I never said anything.
“Even Longmire said, ‘I can’t believe that. They better not do anything to you. You’re not doing anything wrong.’”
The Phillies were leading 5-2 entering the bottom of the third, when two security guards showed up and told Krage that he had go with them.
When Krage asked why, their response was, “you’ve been asked to leave.”
According to Krage, the assembly of Giant fans and Phillie fans sitting in his vicinity were telling security that Krage didn’t do anything wrong. Even Longmire, Krage said, tried pleading his case, saying “leave him alone, he didn’t do anything wrong.”
Security then said, “We’re sorry, sir. There’s nothing we can do, but as soon as the manager asks for someone to leave, we have to escort them,” according to Krage. “I mean security let me straight up know that it was all coming from Kapler. I stood up and turned up and walked with the security guards.
“I wasn’t doing any of this for publicity. I love my life, I love my girlfriend and I love my Phillies. I walked with the security guards. I put my hands up and everyone there was cheering for me, because they knew there was no reason for me to be ejected from the game. As I started up the stairs, people started booing security.
“I don’t blame security. They were doing their jobs. I took it upon myself to ask security if they minded if I said one more thing. They said they didn’t. So I turned around and yelled, ‘Hey, are you happy now, Kapler? Get your head in the game! Why don't you go back to LA, where you belong, you bum?’
“Everyone cheered and I just walked away.”
Through a Phillies’ spokesperson, Kapler said, “I did hear that fan, he was definitely all over me, but I never said anything to anyone about him. I never took my eyes off the field. I did hear what I believe was the same fan who said something about me hitting for Sean Rodriguez with Corey Dickerson. If it was the same guy, he said something like, ‘You finally did something right, hitting for Rodriguez.’ Some of the players got really pissed on behalf of Sean.
“One of them may have said something to a security guard. I never ask for fans to be ejected.”
Krage wasn’t aware that Eric Rohlfing was ejected by someone in the Phillies dugout last July at Fenway Park until googling it later Sunday night. Krage contacted the Giants on Wednesday morning and was told by Giants' customer supervisor Michelle Falvey that the Phillies filed a report Saturday night claiming Krage was removed for using profanity and being abusive.
“That's not true. I decided to contact someone in Philly about it,” said Krage, who reached out to Angelo Cataldi and the Morning Team on SportsRadio 94 WIP Tuesday morning and to PhillyVoice. “I asked security if I could get my money back. Security kept apologizing, and repeating, 'We know, we know, but it came from the manager. Once that happens, we have to do what the manager says.’ It was the Phillies’ manager who had me ejected.
“I wasn’t going to contact anyone about this — because this is bullsh*t. I want the word to get out there what happened to me. I love the Phillies, I have my whole life. And Kapler, who can’t even keep his head in the game, is more worried about me calling him a bum than focusing on what’s happening on the field.”
Of course, what Oracle Park security told Krage doesn't line up with what Kapler and the Phillies said, that the complaint initially came from a player, perhaps in defense of Rodriguez. But a very similar story unfolded last year with Rohlfing's ouster from Fenway.
At the time, ballpark security told Rohlfing that the request for him to be removed came from the manager, but it was ultimately revealed that it actually came from a player, and Kapler simply passed along the request to security. So, on the surface, it looks like the ejection was the manager's decision, but a request from a player, since it comes from the dugout anyway, could be misconstrued to appear as though it was coming from the manager.
Not that any of that is much consolation to Krage and Lara.
“The fans were booing security, because we were getting kicked out,” Lara said. “The whole team took the time to look back at us. That was strange to me. They make all of this money and they were paying attention to some guy calling their manager a bum? Security never gave a reason, other than the manager didn’t like what we were saying.
“Chris tries to go every year when the Phillies come to San Francisco, because he loves the Phillies. Longmire was even upset that we were getting kicked out. You have dumb drunks that kicked all of the time. I can see that. We weren’t. Honestly, as a fan, stuff like this makes me wonder if I even want to be a baseball fan, and Chris is a big fan.
“It’s like a shot in the gut on your birthday.”
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