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Police Presence Increased For John Rocker's Return to New York's Shea Stadium

Aired June 29, 2000 - 1:03 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: In New York City, a firestorm: He may not ride Number 7 subway, but John Rocker will be headed to New York's Shea Stadium tonight. Rocker and the rest of the Atlanta Braves arrived in New York early this morning. It is their first visit since Rocker gave a magazine interview to "Sports Illustrated" insulting New York and its diverse population, singling out riders on the Number 7 subway route.

As CNN's Frank Buckley now reports, some New Yorkers want revenge.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Expect a, you know, so-called "Bronx cheer" for John Rocker.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Boo!

FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Rocker's relationship with New York fans, never nice -- he spit at them, they threw things at him -- but his comments to "Sports Illustrated" last December went beyond the fans, Rocker lashing out at young mothers, people with AIDS, gays, immigrants and others in New York, something few here have forgotten.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He could burn in hell for all I care.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We should kick his butt.

DAVE HOWARD, METS VICE PRESIDENT: John Rocker is requiring extensive police presence in the ballpark.

BUCKLEY: Ten times the normal number of police officers on duty for a New York Mets game will be in the stadium for John Rocker; close to 600 officers in all. Beer sales will be limit to two at a time instead of four, ending in the sixth inning instead of the seventh. And the Mets have also constructed a special cover for the visiting bullpen to protect against thrown objects and liquids.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of people are going to try to shower him not with only batteries, but probably battery acid.

BUCKLEY: Rocker startled New York City officials last week when he said he planned to ride the Number 7 train, which he singled out in the magazine article. Police say the Braves pitcher will be surrounded by officers if he does.

League officials believe Rocker will not ride the train. Still, the mayor of New York has asked New Yorkers to go easy if they encounter Rocker.

MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI (R), NEW YORK: ... to have a counterintuitive response, and that is just be nice.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BUCKLEY: Which may not be the natural instinct of New Yorkers who've been insulted. Still, it is the sentiment of many New York fans who've said, let's not look bad in the face of the visit of John Rocker.

At this point, we can tell you that John Rocker can expect a chorus of boos when he arrives here, however, many, many angry people with John Rocker's comments.

And right now, we are told that John Rocker, just within the last 10 or 15 minutes, left the midtown hotel that he was staying at, the Grand Hyatt, in a black police van. So it appears as though, at least for the moment, he is not taking the 7 train -- Lou.

WATERS: What a way to run a ball game, huh? Frank Buckley in New York, should be quite a night.

CNN will be following this story as Rocker and the Braves play tonight in the Big Apple, or you can catch developments on CNN Interactive. Check out the security preparations, or read the "Sports Illustrated" article from December that started this whole mess.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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