Wilmington Evening Journal - June 13, 1980

Phils’ fans sue over rain-delayed game


Associated Press


PHILADELPHIA - A Montgomery County couple who attended a baseball game delayed for more than five hours by rain has filed suit against the Phillies, seeking refunds or free tickets for the fans at the contest.


The class-action suit, filed yesterday in Common Pleas Court here by Matthew S. and Margaret Averback of Glenside, also names the National League and umpire Robert Engel as defendants.


Engel was in charge of the umpiring crew Monday night, and it was the umpires who decided not to postpone that night's baseball game between the Phillies and the San Francisco Giants. The game started at 7:35 p.m. and ended at 3:11 a.m. Tuesday.


A spokesman for the team, however, said the Phillies had no control over delaying or postponing the game. He also said fans who still have their ticket stubs from the game can obtain tickets for another contest.


Averback, owner of an auto parts store, said he and his wife left the game at 10:30 p.m. Monday during the second rain delay. The decision to play the game showed "wanton disrespect for the people who paid good money" for tickets, he said.


"We're alleging essentially," said attorney Michael Payne, "that there was a breach of contract on behalf of all the defendants, in that there is an agreement when you purchase a ticket for a game that you do so with the belief that you will have the opportunity to view the game under reasonable weather conditions.


"We're saying under the circumstances of the case, the umpires had a duty and an obligation to call the game," Payne said.


"As a practical matter, on' a weeknight, you couldn't expect people to stay at the ballpark until 3:30 in the morning to watch a baseball game."


Bill Giles, Phillies' executive vice president, said the team had no control over the decision to play the game, which the Giants eventually won 3-1 after the two long rain delays.


"We disagreed with the way the umpires handled it in some regards," Giles said. "But there's not very much we can do about the umpires' decision."


Team publicity director Larry Shenk said the 300-to-400 fans who sat through the entire rain-delayed game were offered free tickets for another night at the end of the drawn-out contest. Giles extended the offer to any fan who wrote him enclosing the game's ticket stubs, Shenk said yesterday.


Attendance at the game was 28,702 before the rain delays.