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Man dies after taking part in taco-eating contest at minor league baseball game

Dana Hutchings, 41, was rushed to the hospital after the Fresno Grizzlies promotional event.
Fans arrive at Chukchansi Park in Fresno, Calif., on Sept. 18, 2015.Eric Paul Zamora / The Fresno Bee via AP file

A Fresno man died Tuesday after he participated in a taco-eating contest at a minor league baseball game, officials said.

Dana Hutchings, 41, was pronounced dead at the Community Regional Medical Center after he was rushed there from Chukchansi Park, home of the Fresno Grizzlies.

He collapsed during the lighthearted promotion during Fresno's game against the Memphis Redbirds.

"As of now, I just have that a man participating in a taco-eating contestant at the Fresno Grizzlies game died shortly after arriving to the hospital last night," Fresno County Sheriff's spokesman Tony Botti said. "We are not ruling a cause of death yet."

An autopsy on the man is scheduled for Thursday.

The Fresno Grizzlies are a triple-A, Pacific Coast League affiliate of the Washington Nationals.

"We are devastated to learn that the fan that received medical attention following an event at Tuesday evening’s game has passed away," according to a prepared statement from team president Derek Franks.

"The Fresno Grizzlies extend our heartfelt prayers and condolences to the family of Mr. Hutchings. The safety and security of our fans is our highest priority. We will work closely with local authorities and provide any helpful information that is requested.”

A taco-themed festival set for Saturday at the ballpark, "The Taco Truck Throwdown," will go on as planned — but that event's eating competition has been canceled, the team announced Wednesday.

The Grizzlies play every Tuesday home game as the "Fresno Tacos" as part of their seasonlong Taco Tuesday promotion.

The team has one more Tuesday home game this season, on Aug. 27 against the Tacoma Rainiers. A Grizzlies rep said Wednesday the team hasn't decided if they'll wear their "Tacos" uniforms that day.

The team made national headlines earlier this year when it had to apologize to U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for inadvertently calling her among those who are "enemies of freedom."

On Memorial Day, the Grizzlies played a famous speech by Ronald Reagan between games of their doubleheader against the El Paso Chihuahuas

As Reagan's words extolling American values were heard, images were beamed on the scoreboard of North Korean tyrant Kim Jong Un, late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro — and Ocasio-Cortez, the outspoken first-term Democratic congresswoman from New York City.

The foul-up happened after a team employee found that a YouTube producer, whose videos of Reagan's 1981 inaugural address the Grizzlies had used before, had a new video of the speech in a higher resolution, the team said.

That employee uploaded that newer video, which had been posted on YouTube just six days earlier, without watching all of it — and thus missing the inflammatory shot at Ocasio-Cortez, according to the Grizzlies.