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July 31, 2018

Phillies fan says he was ejected from Fenway by Kapler — but was it actually a player?

Eric Rohlfing can remember being a Phillies’ fan since the infamous Black Friday, October 7, when he was a six-year-old with tears streaming down his face after his beloved team lost Game 3 of the 1977 National League championship series to the Los Angeles Dodgers. But what happened Monday night at Fenway Park challenged his Phillies’ love—and certainly his opinion of Phillies’ rookie skipper Gabe Kapler.

According to Rohlfing, 46, who is in the pharmaceutical business and lives in Willow Grove, Kapler had him ejected from Fenway Park in the third inning of the Phillies’ 2-1, extra-inning walk-off loss to the Boston Red Sox for yelling loudly at Odubel Herrera, “Odubel, wake up!” after Herrera’s third-inning base-running blunder.

On Tuesday, Mark Cacciatore, Red Sox assistant director of security, personally called Rohlfing to apologize and admit that the Red Sox security team made a mistake and it was a miscommunication. The Red Sox offered Rohlfing and his fiancé two tickets to Tuesday’s Red Sox-Phillies game on top of the green monster, which cost about $500 each, but Rohlfing refused, though left the offer open for a future date.

On Thursday, Rohlfing found out through the Red Sox that it was Herrera that made the complaint — not Kapler. Miscommunication followed from Red Sox security that thought it came from Kapler. Rohlfing, upon learning this new information, reached out to PhillyVoice on Thursday to offer an apology to Kapler for accusing him based on information from the Red Sox that ultimately turned out to be inaccurate. 

What started this whole thing on Monday night was when Rohlfing, wearing shorts and a red Phillies’ Nike short-sleeve t-shirt with ‘Phillies’ emblazed in white across the front, ran to the swing gate of the third-base side of the field and yelled his comment to Herrera, while Rhys Hoskins, who was also tagged out on the play, motioned with his hands to Rohlfing to calm down as he was catching his breath from the rundown.

Rohlfing returned to his seat, where he joined his fiancé in section 70, row M, seats 1 and 2, about 13 rows on the third-base side.

“I was in my seat when I saw a security guy come up from the field with an earpiece, he put his fingers up to the earpiece like someone was talking to him, and I saw him go through the swing gate and walking up the steps,” recalled Rohlfing, a 1989 Archbishop Wood graduate who first told his story to Angelo Cataldi and the Morning Team on SportsRadio 94 WIP Tuesday morning. “I said to my fiancé, ‘Please tell me he’s not coming to see me.’

“The security guy came up from the dugout. [The security guy] was told by someone in the [Phillies’] dugout we can’t have that.”

According to Rohlfing, the Fenway Park security person tapped him on the shoulder and motioned with his index finger to follow him to the main concourse, where he told Rohlfing he had to leave the ballpark and was asked if he was with anyone else.

“I thought the security guy was just going to tell me to not to do it again, or don’t go down the steps yelling at the players.

“He said, ‘You need to go,’ and I was like, ‘Go where?’ He said I was being ejected. I asked, ‘I’m being ejected for what?’ I told him all I said was, ‘Odubel, wake up!’ I told what I said. I asked him if they were sure they had the right guy. I didn’t curse, Rhys Hoskins was there, he heard what I said, and I didn’t curse.

“I wasn’t drinking [alcohol]. Then he said, ‘The manager wants you out.’ So then, we started raising our voices. I told them that’s a croc of s---. I told them they couldn’t kick me out for that. That’s when another security guy came over wearing a white shirt, who looked like a supervisor. He pulled me aside and wanted to get my version.

“I felt a little relieved and thought I would get some sort of justice, and as I was in the middle of my story, the guy who tapped me on my shoulder came over and said, ‘The manager wants you out of here.’ The guy in the white shirt stops everything and says, ‘Ok, that’s it, you gotta go,’ and then he waved his arms to get out of here.”

Rohlfing, who is originally from Northeast Philadelphia, said the explanation he was given by the Fenway Park security team was “Fan interference.”

"It sounds like it’s true and they better fix it. We don’t tolerate that in this city.”

Cataldi believes Rohlfing. The popular morning show host has been unrestrained in his criticism of Kapler’s everything-is-sunny outlook. It shouldn’t have come down to Rohlfing to tell Herrera to “wake up.” It should have been Kapler.

“I believe what [Rohlfing] said, but I don’t believe the Phillies will acknowledge it,” Cataldi said. “Hopefully, whether it’s true or not, someone will learn something from this and they don’t pull that stuff on our fans again. That’s a disgrace. Somebody didn’t want [Rohlfing] to scream out for Odubel Herrera to wake up, when the manager should have done that right there and then.

“There has to be some discipline and it took a fan to do what apparently no one on this team chooses to do. It’s an outrage, honestly. This whole week with the comments Kapler has made have been hard to digest. This story comes after two days of comments by Kapler telling me how great the team is in the middle of a four-game losing streak.

“Then [Rohlfing] calls with the story, which is entirely believable, a lot of people had the same reaction I did. It sounds like it’s true and they better fix it. We don’t tolerate that in this city.”

It was the fourth time Rohlfing had been to the fabled Fenway Park. He’ll have a new memory, albeit, a troubling one haunted by the refrain of “fan interference.”

“I said, ‘Shouting something from the stands with no vulgarity is considered fan interference?’” said Rohlfing, whose three-day excursion in Boston cost him over $2,000, including $400 for two box seats for Monday night’s game. “I said there were 30 people yelling at Odubel as he was coming off the field after getting tagged out at third base. There were five security guys, one went off to get my fiancé.

“I wanted to hear a playback of Kapler saying that, because there was no way our Phillies’ manager said that about me. I couldn’t believe Gabe Kapler would do that. When we went back to the hotel, I called the Red Sox customer service, and to my surprise, someone picked up. I just want an explanation.

“If this is the way Gabe Kapler is, then I have a real problem with that. Is he really that thin-skinned? I used to go to [Veterans Stadium] all of the time and sit up in the 700 level and there were far worse things said than that. If someone said something like that in the 700 level, and then kicked out, they would be smacked.

“I know times change, but come on, you can’t say that to a player? It’s been really frustrating the last two days. I broke out in hives when I got back to the hotel. I still have them on my ankles. It never happened before. I don’t know if it was blood pressure or what. I’m a four-for-four guy. My opinion about the Phillies hasn’t changed.

“But I thought Kapler had some old-school in him. This kind of proved that he wants to defend his players to a point, but this is just ridiculous that he would defend his players to this extreme measure that you can’t even say to somebody to wake up. I’m not letting this slide. I can be pretty out spoken. I’m Philly born and bred. It wasn’t a money thing, and when they offered free tickets today, I didn’t want them.”

When Rohlfing’s fiancé, Jessica Mills, was being escorted out by Red Sox security, she was told that the Phillies’ manager wanted them gone. “They told me it was the manager who said, ‘We can’t have this, get him out,’” said Mills, referring to Rohlfing.

As for Rohlfing, "Regardless of what the Red Sox said, or what the Phillies are saying, my whole night was screwed. I’m disgusted. I think it came from Kapler. I’m just going by what five security guards told me.”

UPDATE: On Wednesday morning, Rohlfing joined Angelo Cataldi and the morning team to discuss the reaction to his story.

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