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1950s / Baseball Fan Killed By Stray Bullet - 1950
On Tuesday, July 4, 1950, while awaiting the start of a Brooklyn Dodgers-New York Giants holiday doubleheader at the Polo Grounds in Manhattan, 53-year-old Barney Doyle was killed from a bullet to the head. Doyle, a passionate Giants fan from New Jersey, had come to the sold-out event with his 13-year-old neighbor, Otto Flaig, who had been eagerly awaiting the trip to the Polo Grounds for weeks. Just as the teams entered the field, Doyle turned to speak to his youthful companion and then suddenly slumped over. Fans seated nearby thought Doyle had merely fainted, but quickly realized the situation was far more serious when they saw blood pouring from a severe head wound. Police later discovered that a 14-year-old boy, Robert Peebles, at a nearby housing project on Coogan's Bluff had fired the shot indiscriminately over a five-foot parapet to celebrate the Fourth of July. He had found the .45-caliber gun in Central Park. Newspapers also reported that fans who had bought standing-room passes for the sold-out doubleheader callously fought over Doyle's vacated seat. Because of his age, Peebles shockingly could only receive a juvenile delinquency charge. Doyle had recently been forced to retire from his job due to health concerns; attending ballgames had become one of the few outings he was permitted to do. The photo below ran in the next day's New York Daily News. (If anybody cares, the Giants and Dodgers split that day's doubleheader.)