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Red Sox restrict 2 fans for incident

The Red Sox yesterday revoked the season tickets of a fan who interfered with Yankee Gary Sheffield during Thursday night's game and will prohibit another fan involved in the incident from purchasing tickets for the remainder of the season.

Christopher House, the 39-year-old Dorchester man who swung his arm in Sheffield's direction during the eighth inning Thursday, had his seven season tickets revoked for the rest of 2005. He will be reimbursed for his tickets once he returns them, and the club will consider reinstating his season-ticket account after this season, the team said.

House, in a statement issued through his lawyer, David T. Norton, said last night that he had ''no intention" of striking Sheffield and that he does not believe he made contact with the outfielder.

''It is ridiculous for anyone to even suggest that I punched him or even attempted to," House said, describing himself as a 12-year season ticket holder.

''I was shocked and disappointed by his (Sheffield's) reaction, and I thank Red Sox security and Boston Police for quickly coming to my assistance."

The other fan, identified by two Red Sox sources as Matthew Donovan of Dorchester, will not be allowed to buy tickets for the rest of this season because he doused Sheffield with beer, according to the team.

Donovan, previously identified only by his clothing that night (a GAP sweatshirt), is not a season ticket-holder.

The penalties, announced by the Red Sox, do not ban the men from Fenway Park this year. Neither House nor Donovan could be reached for comment yesterday.

Sheffield is expected to meet today at an undisclosed location with Bob Watson, Major League Baseball's vice president of on-field operations. A decision -- a suspension, a fine, both, or nothing -- could come as soon as today, though it's likelier to come tomorrow, according to a Major League Baseball official.

Sheffield is "probably looking at a fine," the official said. "He reacted. He's probably got to get something for that. He did show some restraint, and he didn't hop into the stands."

Sheffield said yesterday in New York the Sox' actions against the two fans "just proves I wasn't in the wrong, and that's what this is all about."

"Yeah, you try to represent the game the right way, but then being told you're in the wrong for reacting to something you didn't start, that's kind of disturbing," the Yankee outfielder said. "That just makes me feel like it's a hypocritical society."

Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, in a statement issued through a spokesman, said, "We applaud the Red Sox for decisively dealing with this matter."

Sheffield also told the New York Daily News that athletes are in a tough position when it comes to incidents with fans.

"They need to come down more harsh and stop holding us like we're not human," he said. "We are humans, too, and we're going to do human things and the human thing to do when someone hits you is to hit them back. Give us rights so they can't sue us for hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars. If I had brought him onto the field and bashed his head in, then all of a sudden, I get sued. That's just the unrealistic part about all of this.

"If you're out on the street, I guarantee that same guy won't put his hands on me. If I take him out of the stands and bring him onto the field, will I be in the right? That's what you look at. If you're going to be man enough to dish it out, you'd better be man enough to take it."

Sheffield was fielding Jason Varitek's triple when House reached over the wall and appeared to swing his arm in the direction of the right fielder. Sheffield picked up the ball, swung his gloved hand and his other hand in House's direction, then threw the ball toward the infield. Sheffield then turned to confront House but did not strike him. About that time 23-year-old Steven Chin, working security for the Red Sox in the visiting bullpen, jumped into the stands between Sheffield and House.

Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling said after yesterday's 12-7 win over the Blue Jays that he didn't think Sheffield should be disciplined. "Anyone with two eyes and good vision can see that he was watching the ball the whole way and got hit on the side of the head and reacted. He reacted calmer than a lot of people might have and a lot of people have in the past."

Sheffield would have the right to appeal any decision.

David Procopio, spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley, said it will be up to Major League Baseball, the Red Sox security department or Sheffield himself to pursue criminal charges against the fan by applying for criminal complaints at Roxbury District Court. Procopio said his office is not currently investigating the incident.

Because of Patriots Day, Roxbury District Court -- where the process of obtaining criminal complaints against one or both of the men would begin -- was closed yesterday.

Boston Police spokesman Officer Michael McCarthy said the incident remains under investigation.

In prior incidents involving physical contact between athletes, Sox employees, and/or fans, Boston police provided information to Roxbury District Court Clerk-Magistrate Michael Neighbors, who then decided to hold hearings at which some witnesses testified under oath. Neighbors then considered that testimony in deciding whether to approve criminal complaints.

The Red Sox, in announcing the action said that Sheffield was "struck by one fan . . . while chasing a batted ball." Sheffield said the night of the incident it "felt like a hand hit me in the mouth," but the team had not confirmed that until yesterday.

Mike Dee, the chief operating officer of the Red Sox, said Saturday he couldn't remember revoking a season-ticket account since he joined the club as executive vice president/business affairs July 15, 2002.

"Nearly all of our fans are respectful of the rules of baseball etiquette," said Dee. "We hope this will be a warning to the fans who have the opportunity to sit in the first few rows that our policies against interfering with play will be enforced."

The release said the team's actions are in accordance with the season-ticket agreement accepted by each season ticket-holder. House was sitting in Row A of Box 86 in Section 4 between the right-field foul pole and the visiting team's bullpen at the time of the incident.

It is not known exactly where Donovan was seated.

The four-day investigation conducted by the Red Sox front office and Major League Baseball security included review of video, interviews with those who were directly involved, witnesses, fans who sit in Box 86, and security and police personnel who were in the vicinity, Kevin Hallinan, MLB's senior vice president/security and facilities, said in the Sox' release.

"Given our ballpark's intimacy, we will be vigilant in maintaining Fenway Park's comfortable atmosphere," said Charlie Cellucci, the Sox' director of security, in the release. "But interfering with opposing players fielding a ball in play is unacceptable and will not be tolerated."

A friend of House's disagreed with the action by the Sox. "I've known him for at least eight years, and I've never seen him out of line," said Jennifer Maloney, 29, of Dorchester. "Chris is a good person. I don't think they had to take away his tickets. I think he's being made into a scapegoat."

David Abel, Gordon Edes and John Ellement of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Material from the Associated Press also was used.

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