"There's No Fighting in the Bleachers!" and Other Anecdotes from the Left Field Bleachers
"Hey, I saw you on Deadspin!"
That was the moment Sean Harvey realized what he did the night before in the left field bleachers was going viral. "Oh no, do NOT put that on Facebook!" he begged his friend. "I gotta, man! You look great! I love you, man!"
Sean Harvey grew up a South Side Cubs fan. His grandfather, Charlie Barberi grew up during the Black Sox scandal, which turned him off rooting for the White Sox. Charlie's sisters, who lived up north, were Cubs fans, and would take him to games when he paid them visits. As a result, Sean's mom and Aunt Carol also became fanatic Cubs fans.
Growing up, Sean loved watching guys like Jamie Moyer and Greg Maddux - they were the consummate professionals who every pitcher should aspire to be. As a boy, Sean watched a lot of games on TV with his grandfather. In 1980, he and his grandfather attended their first game together at Wrigley. Rookie Lee Smith was a starting pitcher that game, and Sean, sitting along the 3rd base line, saw how enormous Smith was and there, he could hear how hard the ball hit the glove, pitch after pitch. He was hooked.
In the 80's, Sean had a friend, Marco, along with Marco's dad Tony, who lived 2 doors down from the firehouse on Waveland Ave. They would meet at Marco's for games and have parties outside on the front porch, including on the first night game at Wrigley. Harry Caray would come by occasionally and wave to them, and he and his friends, with their quarter barrels of beer and hose rig, would often be mentioned by Harry on numerous broadcasts. Being in their 20's, it was fantastic to see themselves on TV! These friends would also become his North Side crew with whom he would go to games.
Sean began holding season tickets to games in the 90's and eventually settled in the left field bleachers in the early 2000's. How did he and his friends decide on left field? For starters, the left field bleacher fans were more fun, less rowdy than those right field bums. Mostly tho, is that Tony's house lined up with the left field foul poles and that's where they were meant to be.
Back in the 80's, Wrigleyville (and much of Chicago) still had some rough pockets. Sean has sat in the left field bleachers since his high school days, and Wrigley Field became his haven. He tended to sit among big groups, older folks who were there to enjoy the game. If there was any fighting, it would mostly be "the morons not from the neighborhood who can't handle their booze. You don't come to the bleachers to fight, you can go outside and get shot (instead)." He's seen his share of fights happen in the bleachers, but nothing so bad that he'd have to call security. Though, "if there was fighting in the bleachers, there would be a lot of dead Cardinals and White Sox fans."
Sean recounted a story from the late '90's, a game between the Cubs and Cards (the Cubs ended up winning in extra innings 11-10). A Cardinals fan sat in left field with double sided foam core signs with "really rough" pictures and language, along with pictures of a goat, Cards trophies on top of the Chicago skyline... I think you get the idea. Cubs fans were none too pleased with this guy. They threw peanuts, ice and beer at the guy, all the while, security would start tossing out Cubs fans. Cubs fans started to get pissed, but... there was no fighting in the bleachers.
In between innings, Sean made his way down to the guy and told him, "watch your back. You got a lot of good people thrown out of the game. Anywhere else but here, you'd be lying face down on the street." The Cards fan told him to f*ck off, so Sean and his friends made it a goal that those signs would not make it out of the ballpark.
Just before the end of the game, Sean's friend Bob got two beers. As they were walking out, they saw Cards fan. Bob pretended to be drunk and walked towards the Cards fan, bumping into people along the way. He "accidentally" tripped and the beer ended up flying out of the cup and splashing all over the Cards fan, his signs flying out of his hands. The signs were quickly snatched up and destroyed with cries of "Cardinals die!!" The signs looked like confetti as if they went thru the meat shredder. "The guy deserved to go thru the meat shredder, but... there's no fighting in the bleachers. He got out alive but he lost his signs."
The night of September 24, 2018, the Cubs were playing the Pirates and it was Hispanic Heritage Night. It started like any other game, a lot of drinking in the stands, low noise, spilled beer. Sean doesn't know how the fight started but suspects it was people having too much to drink, coupled with a Cubs loss. He saw that the fight started between two guys, then another guy jumped in, then a fourth. That's when he decided to try and stop the fight, as security hadn't shown up yet.
He had the biggest guy in a choke hold, screaming in his ear over and over, "there's no f*cking fighting in the bleachers! Don't you know, this is baseball!" All of a sudden, something clicked in the guy's head and he cooled off. "It (the fight) cooled off somewhat but someone wanted to keep going, and this chick chimed in again."
Sean made his way down to the others, knocking phones out of people's hands. But "(fellow bleacher regular) Danny Rocket did get footage from the front side. It lasted 3 minutes, maybe 5 minutes after that, but I had to get out of there. You can only help people so much... you can't fix stupid."
After the story blew up the next morning, Sean started getting texts from his friends and his Facebook wall exploded after his friend posted the Deadspin article. He even had friends from far flung places such as Chile and Ireland texting him about his escapades. Danny Rockett wrote a song about it and people started making
t-shirts with "There's No Fighting in the Bleachers" on it. So does he make any money from that? Sean replied that it would cost thousands of dollars to copyright the phrase, so he's just having fun with it.
There were some original accounts that the fight was racially motivated. Sean disagreed. Although there were racially charged words said in videos, the fight was likely started over spilled beer and escalated until the game was over.
The picture above is where Sean and his friends Bob, Mark and Nevin caught a home run on Opening Day of 2010. Bob sadly passed away in 2015. For the game on the anniversary of his death a year later, the friends met up in the left field bleachers in the same seats. A home run ball came to their section, almost exactly where they caught the one pictured. Unfortunately, none of them were able to catch it and Sean could not bribe the guy who caught it to make a trade for that ball. But it was almost as if Bob was there and made that moment happen.
Sean has four kids, now aged 15-24. They've been "corrupted" by him by making them sit in the bleachers with him at an early age. His daughter Emilia has even announced "PLAY BALL" before a game. Sean has a lot of history with Wrigley, and "of all the times of me going there, it would be me that this silliness would happen. I have not had the chance to live this down, but I'm glad that I'm part of Cubs history and that I helped pass the old school 'There's no fighting in the bleachers' adage to the next generation."