Cheering Yankees fan slapped by Texas man at Houston Astros game, cops say

A Texas man faces charges after he was accused of slapping a Yankees fan multiple times Sunday at a baseball game, according to authorities.

James Dinkins, a 73-year-old from Crystal Beach on the Gulf Coast of Texas, was arrested on misdemeanor assault charges following the incident at the Astros’ Minute Maid Park in Houston, according to Harris County court records.

Police said Dinkins told the cheering 21-year-old Yankees fan near him to “shut up,” according to KPRC — but “the man who was cheering for the Yankees thought Dinkins was joking, so he patted him on the shoulder. Police said Dinkins then slapped the man who was cheering for the Yankees three times.”

The game that day was the second in the American League Championship series between the Yankees and Astros.

It was just horrible,” said Lea Menchaca, who witnessed the Section 105 altercation, according to the Houston Chronicle. “I was glad that (Dinkins) got taken away.”

Menchaca said Dinkins berated the Yankees fan, who was with his mother, after he clapped when an Astros player struck out during the eighth inning — and the Yankees fan apologized, the Chronicle reported.

Prosecutors said in a complaint filed Monday that Dinkins “unlawfully, intentionally and knowingly” caused “bodily harm” to the victim by striking him with his hand.

Police said Dinkins told them the Yankees fan had threatened his fiance, KPRC reports.

The “reportedly shaken up and teary-eyed” victim reported the slapping to ballpark security and police, according to KTRK, which reported that “the slapping incident was captured on video surveillance in the ballpark.”

According to KTRK, Dinkins, a former Montgomery County justice of the peace, “was also indicted on a federal charge of conspiring to obtain approximately $120,000 in disaster relief funds by fraudulent means in 2012. Dinkins was accused of applying for the funds in the wake of Hurricane Ike.”

Dinkins has been released on bond, according to court records.

“These allegations are troubling, as Houston is better than this,” said Harris County Assistant District Attorney Nathan Beedle, according to the Chronicle. “We pride ourselves on hospitality, sportsmanship, and welcoming anyone from anywhere. All fans from all teams are always welcome in Houston.”

Dinkins declined to comment on his arrest, the Chronicle reported.

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Jared Gilmour is a McClatchy national reporter based in San Francisco. He covers everything from health and science to politics and crime. He studied journalism at Northwestern University and grew up in North Dakota.