Plea deal for Mets fan who ran on field after no-hitter
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The overeager Mets fan from Massapequa who catapulted to YouTube celebrity in June by racing out on the field to join a delirious celebration with Johan Santana after his no-hitter agreed to a fine and community service for his act Thursday in Queens Criminal Court.
Rafael Diaz, 33, pleaded guilty to interfering with a professional sporting event. In addition to paying a $1,000 fine to the city, $4,000 in penalties to the Mets and agreeing to 100 hours of community service, Diaz also faces a ban from Citi Field and other Mets facilities, his lawyer said.
"Mr. Diaz is quite remorseful," said the lawyer, Scott Zerner. "He is a lifelong fan who got swept up in the apex of Mets moments at Citi Field, and he is now paying the price."
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said he hoped the sentence -- and especially the indefinite ban from games -- would serve as a deterrent.
"He has now learned the hard way that the Queens district attorney's office and the New York Mets have zero tolerance for those who interfere with the play of America's pastime," Brown said.
Videos of the climax of Santana's no-hitter, the first in Mets history, show Diaz, a married father of two, running across the diamond in a replica Gary Carter Mets jersey and cutoff jeans, and joining a gleeful scrum of players who engulfed Santana at the pitcher's mound.
As the celebration continued, Mets security officers dragged him out of the group, wrestled him to the ground and escorted him off the field.
Diaz did not return a call for comment Thursday. But in June, in an interview with Newsday, he said he had been so overcome with emotion that he didn't think about the consequences, which included spending two nights in jail before he was released.