Fielding major-league insults

Phillies reliever Roberto Hernandez doesn't pretend to know what happened -- or condone Frank Francisco's behavior -- but he can empathize.

Originally Published: September 20, 2004
By Jerry Crasnick | ESPN Insider
PHILADELPHIA – Ten years ago, when Frank Francisco was a Dominican schoolboy accustomed to sitting on chairs rather than throwing them, Roberto Hernandez got into a spat with some belligerent fans in the visitors bullpen in Oakland. He addressed the matter forcefully and directly, with his fists rather than a piece of furniture.

Hernandez was playing for the Chicago White Sox in 1994 when three young rowdies, oozing testosterone and beer breath, began taunting him as he warmed up in the late innings. First the hecklers directed their remarks at him. Then the vulgarities escalated to include his wife, his kids and his mother.

"It reached a point where I'd had enough," Hernandez said. His emotions got the best of him, and he approached the stands, stared down one of the abusers and popped him in the chest. Hard.

Jerry Crasnick

ESPN Senior Writer