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Fish toss at baseball games draws complaints
Club will poll fans on retaining the promotion

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Small-town baseball teams often come up with wacky promotions to entertain fans. The Sacramento Steelheads might have gone too far with the "fish toss."

Here's how it works: Fans are selected out of the crowd to hurl a dead steelhead as close to second base as they can."One time a little kid threw the fish, and its head came off in his hand and the body went flying," said Elaine Davis, whose son pitches for the Steelheads. "It was awful."

On Monday, the Animal Protection Institute, a national group based in Sacramento, demanded in a letter to the team's promotions manager that the fish toss be stopped. The group said it had received several complaints.

"Asking children to toss a dead fish around suggests not only an obvious lack of respect for animals but also a thoughtless disregard for Steelheads fans who might be disturbed by insensitive actions toward animals," wrote API spokesman Lawrence Carter-Long.

He said there has been no response from Steelheads management.

The Western League team's owner, Bruce Portner, said he wasn't aware of the letter.

"I never heard of them," he said. "They're not going to climb to the top of the stadium and hang up a banner, are they?"

Portner said he expected the contest would generate some controversy but doesn't think it's harmful.

"I thought it would be hysterical. But is it offensive? I think if the fish were alive it might be offensive," he said.

Portner said he will poll fans about the fish toss at an upcoming game.

"I will generate a voting form, and if the majority of our fans wants the steelhead toss to continue, then it will. If a simple majority wants it to go, I'll trash it immediately. I believe the people have the right to decide."