21-year-old charged in beer-tossing incident at Wrigley Field

Fri 14 Aug 2009
By Dan Simmons and Stacy St. Clair

A Bartlett man has been charged with two misdemeanors after a daylong search for the Cubs fan who threw beer on a Philadelphia Phillies outfielder during Wednesday night’s game.

Johnny Macchione, 21, was cited for battery and illegal conduct within a sports facility late Thursday. The college student’s face had been splashed across the Internet and television after the team announced it had ejected the wrong man in the incident and was looking for the real culprit.

“Chicago Cubs, I’m sorry I disgraced you,” Macchione said as he left Belmont Area police headquarters after being charged.

The Cubs organization and Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino filed a complaint with the Chicago police after the dousing. Macchione, who described himself as a lifelong Cubs fan, contacted detectives later that day and turned himself in.

The battery charge, the more serious of the two, carries a possible sentence of up to 364 days. If convicted, Macchione faces up to 180 days on the illegal conduct charge.

“It was a big mistake,” he said. “I’d like to apologize to Shane Victorino. It really was nothing against him.

“… The courts will handle itself out, but I’m sorry for what I did.”

In the fifth inning Wednesday night, the Cubs’ Jake Fox hit a long fly ball to center field. With Victorino camped under the ball, a fan from the Wrigley Field bleachers tossed a cup of beer at the center fielder and splashed him.

Victorino caught the ball anyway and the Phillies won 12-5.

Macchione, who was attending the game with a high school friend, escaped detection when Cubs security mistakenly identified another fan who taunted Victorino and took him to a holding room for interrogation. The man later was cleared of any involvement, and authorities began questioning people seated in the section to find the culprit.

Ryan Affara of Bartlett said he immediately recognized his friend Thursday afternoon when he saw video of the incident on YouTube.

“It was kind of weird,” Affara said. “When I first saw the story, I thought whoever did that was pretty stupid. I didn’t think I would know the guy, but then I saw the video.”

Macchione arrived at the police station shortly after 5 p.m. Thursday, accompanied by two men who identified themselves as friends. They left about four hours later.

Friends say Macchione, a former Bartlett High School soccer standout, is a Cubs fan who doesn’t attend games regularly.

The Cubs publicly and privately apologized for the incident, a gesture Victorino said he appreciated before the Cubs-Phillies game Thursday. Victorino also said he hoped the then-unidentified beer tosser realized the seriousness of his actions.

“You have to be held accountable for stuff like that,” Victorino said. “You know what, the guy just might have thought it was fun. It is what it is. He didn’t accost me in any way. He didn’t hurt me in any way. It was part of the ballgame.”

Mayor Richard M. Daley also chastised the then-unknown culprit Thursday.

“Everybody enjoys sports, but you have to be very careful about how you interact with professional ballplayers,” Daley told reporters. “That ballplayer could’ve gotten seriously hurt.”

As for Victorino, he says he doesn’t hold any grudges against Cubs fans and still enjoys coming to Wrigley Field.

“No, I love playing here,” he said. “I love the atmosphere. I love the way they go about the game.”

Tribune reporters David Heinzmann, Andrew Wang, Dan P. Blake and Paul Sullivan contributed to this report. dtsimmons@tribune.com

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