Under fire for their stadium's coarse atmosphere since the severe beating of a Giants fan on Opening Day, the Dodgers and Los Angeles baseball fans displayed their soft side Monday, supporting the victim with financial donations and tears.
An event billed as a "drive-through fundraiser" brought in $61,400 in seven hours as motorists - encouraged by L.A. officials and Dodgers legend Tommy Lasorda - streamed into the Dodger Stadium parking lot bearing cash and checks.
The fundraiser was held a few hundred yards from where police say Bryan Stow, 42, of Santa Cruz was attacked by two men wearing Dodgers gear following the March 31 game. Stow is in critical condition with head injuries at County-USC Hospital. A $150,000 reward has been offered for information leading to arrests.
Support4Stow website, fundraiser information
About 2,500 people made donations, according to Scott White, the Los Angeles County general manager for American Medical Response. The Colorado-based company that employs Stow as a paramedic had organized Monday's fundraiser to help with the family's medical bills.
Donor Jennie Cook had tears on her cheeks as she gave a check for $100 to one of 125 volunteers from AMR.
"I was going to give $20, but then my heart started breaking," said Cook, 52, a caterer from Echo Park who said she, her husband and three children have attended several games a season for 25 years. "I felt so bad when this happened.
"I think there's nothing more fun than trash-talking baseball fans. But come on - don't throw things, don't use bad words ...
"It's a game."
The fundraiser occurred as the Dodgers and Giants prepared to play each other Monday night in San Francisco - amid stepped-up security - in the start of a three-game series.
Meanwhile, Dodgers and law-enforcement officials continued to plan for added police presence at Dodger Stadium in the team's next homestand, beginning Thursday night against the St. Louis Cardinals.
An emotional Lasorda donated $5,000 to help Stow, a father of two.
"I've run out of tears for this young man," said Lasorda, the Hall of Fame former manager who now is a special adviser to Dodgers owner Frank McCourt. "What those thugs did to him is a disgrace to them and their families. We'll get them. They'll pay the price."
Lasorda's voice broke as he said of Stow: "The young man, I hope and pray, some day will be able to walk into a ballpark again and enjoy a game."
The Dodgers have given $25,000 toward the reward fund, and Dodgers owner Frank McCourt donated to the Stow medical fund but prefers not to say how much, club spokesman Josh Rawitch said.
Last week, the Dodgers hired former LAPD chief William Bratton to lead a review of stadium security.
However, the club and its fans continued to draw criticism for what many longtime Dodgers-watchers say is a deteriorating atmosphere in the 49-year-old ballpark north of downtown.
"This is really a day late and a dollar short for the Dodgers," said Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, one of a handful of elected officials to attend Monday's event.
"This is no longer the family environment the O'Malley family (which owned the Dodgers until 1997) fostered. Turning it into the Roman circus is stupid."
Antonovich said violence could have been anticipated.
"I blame the Dodgers. They knew what was going on," he said.
Antonovich called on the team to increase security, improve parking-lot lighting, cut down on alcohol sales, and bar troublemakers.
City Councilman Tom LaBonge said, though, that it's unfair to blame the Dodgers for the incident.
"I think the Dodgers have a strong commitment (to fans' safety), absolutely," LaBonge said.
White said donors included a school-bus driver - who pulled up in an empty yellow bus - and someone who said he couldn't afford to give much, and then wrote a check for $1,000.
Joey Banks, 51, of Valley Village, rode in on his motorcycle and handed over $30 in cash, calling it "the least I could do to help the family."
Banks is the son of Ernie Banks, the Hall of Fame former shortstop of the Chicago Cubs.
A Hollywood stuntman, Banks said he had a bad experience at Dodger Stadium when he wore a Cubs jersey to a game last season and was verbally abused by Dodgers fans in the parking lot.
After he heard about the Stow incident, Banks said, he thought: "That could have been me."
Robert Brewster, 46, a Littlerock resident, said the attack left him "embarrassed" as a lifelong Dodgers fan.
"I enjoy having a rivalry with the Giants," Brewster said. "I don't think it has to be violent."
No change in Stow's condition was announced. He has been reported to be in a medically induced coma.