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Sleepy New York baseball fan sues over nap time jibes

By Bernard Vaughan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York man says television announcers who teased him on air for falling asleep at a New York Yankees game should let sleeping fans lie.

Andrew Rector contends that he was subjected to an "unending verbal crusade" from ESPN announcers Dan Shulman and John Kruk when cameras caught him sleeping at an April 13 game against the Boston Red Sox, according to a defamation lawsuit filed last week in New York state court.

The lawsuit claimed the announcers called Rector "fatty, unintelligent, stupid," and seeks $10 million in damages. Rector brought his lawsuit against ESPN, the Yankees, the announcers and Major League Baseball Advanced Media. He accused the defendants of intentional infliction of emotional distress.

"These unmitigated verbal onslaughts crossed the line between reporting on sport and abuse against the plaintiff," according to the lawsuit. A spokeswoman for ESPN said in a statement, "The comments attributed to ESPN and our announcers were clearly not said in our telecast. The claims presented here are wholly without merit."

During the telecast, Kruk and Shulman voiced surprise that Rector could fall asleep in only the fourth inning, when the Yankees held a 2-1 lead in a game they eventually won 3-2. They also wonder if an alert man eating chicken next to Rector is his "buddy" who likes Rector better when he sleeps.

"I'll tell you what, though, how comfortable is that," Kruk said. "He probably won't have any neck problems tomorrow."

The lawsuit notes that "millions of people all over the world turn out or tune in" to watch the famous Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.

Representatives for Major League Baseball and the Yankees were not immediately available for comment. Rector and his lawyer could not be reached for comment.

(Reporting by Bernard Vaughan; Editing by Will Dunham)

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