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Dodgers Opening Day 2012: Security Includes Undercover Cops (VIDEO)

By ROBERT JABLON 04/10/12 09:23 PM ET AP

Dodgers Opening Day 2012
Los Angeles police are out in force for opening day at Dodger Stadium, a year after the brutal beating of a San Francisco Giants fan. (Associated Press)

LOS ANGELES — The opening day game at Dodger Stadium got under way Tuesday amid a heavy police presence, one year after a Giants fan was beaten into a coma in the parking lot.

Undercover officers wearing Pittsburgh Pirates jerseys in the stadium joined uniformed officers patrolling on bikes, horses and in squad cars.

Officers wearing rival team jerseys will be at every game this season, Sgt. Mitzi Fierro said.

"If somebody is going to harass a fan from an opposing team, it increases the possibility of them coming in contact with a police officer," she said. "It kind of requires people to be on their best behavior."

No arrests had been made as the sold-out game began Tuesday afternoon.

Security was a "paramount priority," the team said in a statement as fans swarmed to the hilltop stadium for the gala opening, which marked the 50th anniversary of the first game played there and the start of a season that will see a change in ownership.

Police did not reveal the exact number of officers deployed but said it was far more than at last year's opener.

Some fans weren't happy with enforcement of a zero-tolerance policy for booze in the packed parking lots.

Manuel Veliz, 30, of Wilmington, said he and two friends didn't want to pay stadium beer prices and brought their own. They were drinking it in Starbucks cups in their car when a police officer made them pour it out. "The cops, they just come out of nowhere and he said, `There's cameras everywhere – we seen you drinking'," he said. "You know, we're just trying to have a beer."

Zachary Beck, 23, York, Pa., arranged to visit a friend in California so he could catch the Pirates game. He was wearing his team's hat and jersey but said he did not worry about his safety.

"I had a couple of people say, `Oh, boo, Pirates,' but they had smiles on their faces," he said.

Last year's opening was marred by an attack at the end of the game on Giants fan Bryan Stow. He was wearing a San Francisco jersey when he was punched in the head, kicked and slammed to the ground in the parking lot. Stow, a paramedic from Santa Cruz, suffered severe brain damage and continues to undergo rehabilitation.

He still needs someone to dress him and help him to and from his wheelchair, according to a posting early last month on a family blog.

Two men have pleaded not guilty to charges of mayhem, assault and battery.

After the attack, critics charged that Dodgers owner Frank McCourt had contributed to a climate of rowdiness by cutting security, including the number of uniformed LAPD officers the Dodgers paid to staff games.

"There were rowdier fans, the atmosphere seemed to change," said Fierro, a lifelong fan who once saw Sandy Koufax throw a no-hitter.

The team, which expects to exit bankruptcy this month, is being bought for $2 billion by Guggenheim Baseball Management, a group that includes former Los Angeles Lakers star Earvin "Magic" Johnson and longtime baseball executive Stan Kasten.

Dodgers fan Russell Burton, 28, said the mood inside the stadium was great after a year of ownership and security woes.

"Leave it to Magic to save it for LA," added Burton.

Burton said he attended games last year and thinks fans felt tense after the Stow attack, and ownership problems only added to the discomfort.

"This year is like a clean slate," said Burton.

Robert Delgado, 40, from Fontana, his wife and his 10-year-old daughter, Juliana, were attending their first Dodger opening game.

Delgado boycotted the Dodgers last year because of McCourt.

"I think he made it all about him and his family and money rather than the institution that the Dodgers are to this city," he said. "He kind of stole that and made it dirty."

Delgado doesn't like the fact that McCourt will continue to earn money from Dodger fans because he still owns the stadium parking lots.

But at least "he doesn't control the team," he said.

___

Associated Press writer Shaya Tayefe Mohajer contributed to this report from Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Police Department are stepping up security for the 2012 Dodgers' opening day game. One year earlier, San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow was brutally beaten in the Dodger stadium parking lot following the 2011 opening day game.
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  • March 31, 2011: Bryan Stow Beaten At Dodger Stadium

    After the opening day game at Dodger Stadium in 2011, a San Francisco Giants fan was found unconscious and in critical condition in the stadium parking lots. In the video above, police tell the Associated Press that some Dodgers fans followed and taunted a group of Giants fans walking into the parking lot. The altercation ended in the hospitalization of one of the Giants fans. Authorities didn't release the name of the victim, but he was later identified as Bryan Stow, a 42-year-old EMT and father of two who was visiting from the Bay Area.

  • April 11, 2011: Dodgers & Giants Honor Stow

    The San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers stand for a moment of silence for paramedic Bryan Stow, pictured above, who was beaten at Dodger Stadium earlier this month, before their baseball game in San Francisco, Monday, April, 11, 2011. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

  • April 14, 2011: LAPD Steps Up Security

    Los Angeles Police Department chief Charlie Beck, left, listens in on a meeting with police officer and security at Dodger Stadium prior to the Dodgers' Major League Baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Thursday, April 14, 2011, in Los Angeles. During this time, Bryan Stow, remained hospitalized in Los Angeles in a medically induced coma. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • April 14, 2011: LAPD Steps Up Security

    Los Angeles Police Department officers patrol the parking lot outside Dodger Stadium prior to the Dodgers' Major League Baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Thursday, April 14, 2011, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • April 14, 2011: LAPD Steps Up Security

    Los Angeles Police Department officers stand by as fans enter prior to the Dodgers' Major League Baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Thursday, April 14, 2011, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • April 14, 2011: LAPD Steps Up Security

    Los Angeles Police Department and security deploy at Dodger Stadium prior to the Dodgers' Major League Baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Thursday, April 14, 2011, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • May 16, 2011: Bryan Stow Transferred To SF

    Bryan Stow, a Bay Area native, is transported from a Los Angeles hospital to San Francisco. Here, he's being escorted by his neurosurgeon Dr. Gabriel Zada, left, the LAC-USC medical team and the air and ground transport team to an ambulance waiting to take him to the Burbank Airport. (AP Photo/Al Seib,Pool)

  • May 17, 2011: LAPD Announces Search For Suspects

    In a May 17, 2011 news conference, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, at podium, announces the launching of 300 billboard ads, background, throughout Los Angeles seeking information on the suspects who severely beat San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow in the Dodger Stadium parking Lot on March 31, 2011. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

  • May 18, 2011: LAPD Cadet Hand Out Flyers About Suspects

    Los Angeles Police Department cadet Christian Ibarra hands out flyers at the entrance to Dodger Stadium prior to the Dodgers' baseball game against the San Francisco Giants, Wednesday, May 18, 2011, in Los Angeles. During this time, authorities were still seeking information on two men suspected of beating Giants fan Bryan Stow on the Dodgers' opening day. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • May 22, 2011: LAPD Announces Arrest

    In this May 22, 2011 news conference, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, right, announces the arrest of a suspect in the March 31 beating of San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow at an Opening Day game at Dodger Stadium. While the suspect was not named, it would turn out to be East LA resident Giovanni Ramirez. Ramirez was later exonerated as a suspect. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

  • May 22, 2011: LAPD Community Alert

    This Los Angeles Police Department wanted poster was photographed during the Sunday, May 22, 2011 news conference. It shows information regarding wanted suspects for the March 31 beating of San Francisco Giants baseball fan Bryan Stow in Los Angeles. Los Angeles police officials announced the arrest of Suspect 1, left, whose name was not released at the time. He would turn out to be Giovanni Ramirez, who was cleared of all suspicion later on in the case. Suspect 2 remained at large, as did Suspect 3, not depicted, the female driver of the getaway vehicle. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

  • May 22, 2011: Giovanni Ramirez Arrested

    Ramirez was arrested early Sunday morning in an East Hollywood apartment. He was believed to be one of two aggressors in the attack on Giants fan Bryan Stow outside Dodger Stadium after the Dodger home opener. During the arrest, police found a firearm on the premises, which is a violation of Ramirez's parole. He was sentenced to 10 months in jail for the parole violation but was never charged for the crime against Stow for lack of evidence. Ramirez was eventually exonerated in July, when LAPD arrested two new suspects. However, he still had to carry out his 10 month sentence for the parole violation and was released March 17, 2012. Giovanni Ramirez is shown in this undated file photograph obtained by The Associated Press. (AP Photo)

  • May 23, 2011: Stow Family Relieved At Arrest

    From left to right, David Stow, father, Bonnie Stow, sister, Erin Collins, sister, and Ann Stow, mother, of San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow, express thanks during a news conference at a hospital in San Francisco, Monday, May 23, 2011 the day after a suspect was arrested for Bryan's brutal beating. A tip from a parole officer late last week led to the arrest of Giovanni Ramirez, 31, of Los Angeles in the attack. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

  • July 22, 2011: LAPD Announces 2 New Arrests

    Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, left, and Police Chief Charlie Beck take questions from the media Friday, July 22, 2011, in Los Angeles, Calif. Two new suspects were in custody today on suspicion of nearly beating to death a San Francisco Giants fan after attending the March 31 home opener between the Giants and Dodgers at the Dodger Stadium parking lot. The arrests eventually exonerated Giovanni Ramirez, a previous suspect. During this time, Bryan Stow, 42, remained hospitalized in serious condition. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

  • August 10, 2011: New Suspects Arraigned

    In this courtroom sketch, Louie Sanchez, 29, accused of beating San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow at Dodger Stadium on opening day, is arraigned in Los Angeles Criminal Court Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2011. Sanchez and Marvin Norwood, 30, who was arraigned at the same hearing, have been charged with mayhem, assault, battery and other counts in the beating of Bryan Stow, who suffered devastating brain injuries. (AP Photo/Bill Robles)

  • August 10, 2011: New Suspects Arraigned

    In this courtroom sketch, Marvin Norwood, 30, accused of beating San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow at Dodger Stadium on opening day, is arraigned in Los Angeles Criminal Court Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2011. (AP Photo/Bill Robles)

  • September 3, 2011: Stow's Dad Honored

    David Stow, father of San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow, throws out the honorary first pitch before a baseball game between the Giants and the Arizona Diamondbacks in San Francisco, Saturday, Sept. 3, 2011. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

  • October 11, 2011: Stow Transferred To Rehab

    Bryan Stow was transferred from San Francisco General Hospital to an undisclosed rehab facility in the Bay Area. In this handout photo provided by San Francisco General Hospital, Dr. Geoff Manley, the hospital's neurosurgeon chief, left, poses next to hospital workers as Bryan Stow, second from left, is transferred from San Francisco General Hospital in San Francisco, Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011. (AP Photo/San Francisco General Hospital)

  • March 31, 2012: Support for Bryan Stow

    Bryan Stow's family regularly <a href="http://support4bryanstow.com/" target="_hplink">updates this website</a> to let his supporters know how he's doing in rehab. Their last update was March 31, 2012 -- one year after his brutal beating: <blockquote>Because Bryan still has so far to go, it's easy to get discouraged, feel down and even get angry for what happened to him. We feel sad for Tyler and Tabitha, who need their dad. We feel sad for Bryan, for having to go through what he's been through and what he will go through for the rest of his life. But, because he has his life we are forever thankful. </blockquote> (Photo courtesy of <a href="http://support4bryanstow.com/" target="_hplink">Support4BryanStow</a>)

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