Brooklyn, NY – What should have been a relaxing, informal business meeting at Yankee Stadium turned into something far more disturbing, as an Orthodox Jewish father of five had his yarmulka removed by a drunk fan who taunted him briefly before giving it back.
Flatbush resident Benjamin Lapin, a lifelong fan of the Bronx Bombers, said it was an uneventful night as he and a business associate were seated in premium seats three rows away from left field on September 12th. According to Lapin, things changed dramatically in the ninth inning when the fan seated directly behind him returned from the restroom, and after bragging to his friends that he had just gotten into an argument with a Dodgers fan and had thrown his beer on the floor, the unidentified man removed Lapin’s yarmulka from his head.
Lapin turned around to confront the man, while his business associate, unaware of the unfolding events, continued to watch the game, with the Yankees down by several runs.
“I said to him, ‘What’s your problem? Are you drunk?’” Lapin told VIN News.
Lapin said that the man admitted that he was intoxicated and then remarked, “I just want you to know I have nothing against Jews.”
Lapin’s requests for the return of his yarmulka fell on deaf ears, with the man behind him holding his yarmulka out of his reach before finally returning it less than a minute later. Both the man and his friends, who had been drinking beer and cheering for the Yankees throughout the night, left the stadium immediately afterwards.
Unwilling to ruin the night for his associate, Lapin sat through the remaining five minutes of the game and then sought out stadium security to discuss the incident.
“They handed me off from one person to another with each one getting all defensive and saying, ‘that’s not my section,’” said Lapin. “I told them that it was a hate crime and this guy has to be prosecuted or he will do it again but it was late and they just wanted to go home”
Lapin was given an email address to contact the next day and three days later, a member of the Yankees’ guest services team emailed him an apology and an offer of free tickets to a future baseball game.
“I told them strongly, this isn’t about tickets,” said Lapin. “I told them, you guys have the footage. If he had stabbed me, you would know right away who it is was. This can’t be allowed to happen.”
Lapin expressed disappointment in the Yankees’ attempt to downplay of the incident, saying that the culprit should be reprimanded for his actions.
“The whole way home I felt humiliated,” said Lapin. “There were lots of Jewish people wearing caps and hiding their yarmulkas, but we should be proud to wear our yarmulkas at a game and we should feel protected. The Yankees should take this seriously. I don’t want him to get away with this because next time he could do this to a kid.”
In a press release sent out today, Assemblyman Dov Hikind chastised the Yankees for “striking out” in their response to the situation.
“If a Muslim woman was sitting there and someone took her hijab, can you imagine what the reaction from the public would be,” queried Hikind. “We need to send a clear message that there is no place for this type of behavior anywhere.”
VIN News contacted the Yankees for a comment on the situation, but no response was available in time for publication.