Snoozing Yankees Fan Sues ESPN, MLB for Defamation

Photo (cc) by m01229

Yankees fan Andrew Rector caught some ZZZs during the Yankees-Red Sox game April 13. His nap, in a second-row seat in Yankee Stadium, was caught by ESPN cameras, leading two announcers to make some seemingly innocent jabs about Rector’s snoozing.

Now Rector is suing the Yankees, ESPN, Major League Baseball and announcers Dan Shulman and John Kruk, claiming the video and commentary about his nap damaged his reputation, The New York Times said. The 26-year-old Rector is demanding $10 million in damages for defamation and emotional distress.

According to the complaint, Rector was the victim of an “unending verbal crusade.” It goes on to say that the announcers “unleashed [sic] avalanche of disparaging words” against Rector, including words like “stupor, fatty, unintelligent, stupid.” Rector also claims that MLB is liable for “vituperative utterances” about him on its website, where a video clip of him taking the infamous snooze was posted April 14.

I watched the clip on YouTube. I didn’t hear the “disparaging” words Rector’s complaint describes. According to the Times, a portion of the video clip of the alleged incident showed:

Mr. Shulman said that “this guy’s oblivious” and Mr. Kruk opined that “this is not the place you come to sleep.” They also marveled that he had fallen asleep in the fourth inning and might have slept through a home run by the Yankees’ Carlos Beltran a few minutes earlier. “We’ve got to see how long this guy’s out for,” Mr. Shulman said.

According to The Washington Post, ESPN issued this statement in response to the lawsuit:

The comments attributed to ESPN and our announcers were clearly not said in our telecast. The claims presented here are wholly without merit.

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