TWO-YEAR-OLD AMANDA SANTOS IS IN the doorway of her small aqua-colored house in Los Angeles, bawling her head off. Her parents have made the mistake of trying to dress her in a tiny baseball uniform. “She won’t let us,” says Marivel, 30, her mother. “She doesn’t even want to hold her bat and ball.”
Amanda may just be fussy, or she may, justifiably, associate baseball with bodily harm. On July 24 she suffered second-degree burns under her right eye and corneal lacerations when N.Y. Mets outfielder Vince Coleman, 31, tossed an explosive device equal to a quarter stick of dynamite into a cluster of autograph seekers in the Dodger Stadium parking lot after a game. Two other fans also suffered injuries: Cindy Mayhew, 33, of Covina, had an inner-ear concussion; and Marshall Savoy, 11, of Paso Robles, shin lacerations.
“At first I thought it was a smoke bomb—then it blew up,” says Marivel. “When my daughter started screaming, I thought she had just been scared by the blast. But when I picked her up, I noticed the blood.”
Five days later, Coleman finally spoke publicly about the “incident.” Appearing at a press conference with his wife, Lynette, and sons Vince Jr., 5, and Lance, 3, Coleman allowed that his “actions on July 24 were very inappropriate.” Depicting himself as “a father first and an athlete second,” he said that he wanted to extend “comfort and assistance” to the Santos family.
Just how much “assistance” Coleman, in the third year of a four-year $11.95 million contract, extends could be decided in court. The Santos family, the Savoys and Mayhew are all threatening to sue. Last week the Los Angeles DA charged Coleman with the felonious possession of an explosive device. The outfielder could lace a sentence ranging from probation to three years in state prison and a possible fine of $10,000.
Says Marivel: “If you ask Amanda if she ever wants to go to another game, she says, ‘No, it’s scary.’ ”