I’m back this week from an unplanned hiatus. Since it’s Christmas, it seemed appropriate to feature a crime without murder, mayhem, and gore. So, this week, I present the case of Michael Sergio. In 1986, Sergio parachuted onto the field at New York’s Shea Stadium during Game Six of the World Series. While that might not seem like such a crime, Major League Baseball takes incursions onto the playing field very seriously, as Sergio found out.
Michael Sergio and Baseball in 1986
In 1986, New Yorker Michael Sergio was an actor working on the daytime soap opera “Loving,” appearing in commercials, and trying to start a singing career. At the time, he was also a professional skydiver with 2,300 jumps to his credit.
Also in 1986, the New York Mets faced the Boston Red Sox in baseball’s annual World Series. The Sox had appeared in the fall classic several times but had last won in 1918 when Babe Ruth pitched the team to two wins over the Chicago Cubs. The following year, Red Sox owner Harry Frazee sold Ruth’s contract to the New York Yankees, initiating a championship drought that Bostonians ruefully called the “Curse of the Bambino.”
The Mets had last won the Series in 1969—the “Miracle Mets”—and were looking to notch another championship.
Michael Sergio “Drops In” on the World Series
The World Series opened in New York, with the Red Sox taking both games. It then moved to Boston, where the Mets won Games 3 and 4 while the Red Sox took Game 5. By Saturday, October 25, the Series returned to New York’s Shea Stadium (since demolished) for Game 6, and the Red Sox led three games to two.
Sergio recalled the genesis of his stunt in a 2016 interview with Newsday. “They had released a bunch of balloons up in Boston, and the Boston media went crazy,’’ he said. “It just clicked. I said to myself, ‘Yeah? Watch this.’”
Sergio made his jump in the top of the first inning. He remembers that a roar came up from the crowd below as he descended. He landed between the pitcher’s mound and the first base line, trailing a gold “Go Mets” banner. Security personnel immediately took him into custody and marched him to the Mets’ dugout. “[Pitcher] Ron Darling gave me a high five,” Sergio recalled.
Sergio ended up at the 111th Precinct station in Queens, where he signed autographs for police officers.
Legal Ramifications for Michael Sergio
Prosecutors in Queens, home of Shea Stadium, claimed that Sergio’s actions could have injured fans and players and interrupted air traffic from nearby LaGuardia Airport. They charged him with reckless endangerment and criminal trespassing. He spent a night in jail and was released on his own recognizance the next day.
Several Mets players arranged for a lawyer to take Sergio’s case pro bono. He pled guilty to criminal trespassing, and the prosecution dropped the reckless endangerment charge. He was fined $500 and ordered to do 500 hours of community service at the children’s section of the Central Park Zoo.
A judge later held Sergio in contempt of court for refusing to name the pilot or aircraft that flew him over Shea. He was sentenced to six months in federal prison but was released after Senator Al D’Amato intervened on his behalf.
The Mets won Game 6 and, two days later, came from behind to win Game 7 and the 1986 World Series.
When the Mets held a party in 2016 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the World Series win, they did not invite Sergio.
Sergio maintained that neither he nor anyone on the ground was in danger. As an experienced skydiver, he never considered his act a stunt or himself a daredevil.
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