TO MUCH of the civilized world, Matthew Clemmens was known yesterday as "Pukemon," a slovenly schlub from South Jersey who was accused of making himself vomit on a cop and his little girl.
Word of Clemmens' allegedly vile misdeed at Wednesday night's Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park spread faster than a spilled beer, causing the 21-year-old to be fast-tracked into the Philly fan Hall of Shame.
On blogs, TV and radio shows and in newspaper articles, people couldn't stop talking about Clemmens and another man who, police say, cursed, spilled beer and even spat either on Easton Police Capt. Michael Vangelo or his two daughters, 11 and 15, during the game.
Voters on Philly.com deemed Clemmens the city's all-time low in a landslide.
But not everyone agreed. Clemmens' uncle insisted that his nephew isn't the brutish, pinpoint puker he's being made out to be.
"The kid is one of the average kids who went to the game and had a few beers, and maybe a few beers before the game," said Dave Clemmens, 48, of Berlin, N.J.
"Matt's a nice kid. Maybe a little overweight, but he has a good heart."
Vangelo told the Daily News on Thursday that Clemmens and a pal began harassing his family almost as soon as they reached their seats in section 130 at the ballpark.
Things came to a head, Vangelo said, after Clemmens' friend was booted from the game. Police said Clemmens announced his intent to vomit, stuck fingers down his throat and directed the stream toward Vangelo and his younger daughter.
Clemmens was also throwing punches while vomiting, striking Vangelo in the head several times, police said. Clemmens began fighting with surrounding fans and, police said, kept on fighting and barfing as he was removed from the ballpark.
Dave Clemmens, emphasizing that he wasn't at the game to witness the debacle, said it sounded like his nephew was sick - either from "something he ate or something he drank" - and could have used a helping hand rather than closed fists to the face. The vomiting may have been disgusting, he added, but it wasn't malicious.
"As I understood it, he was choking on his own vomit and he put his hand over his mouth, and it sprayed over the crowd," he said.
"I don't know anybody that can stick their finger in their mouth and make themselves vomit and punch somebody at the same time. It doesn't make any sense."
Vangelo, 45, was unmoved yesterday by Clemmens' defense of his nephew.
"Maybe he's trying to minimize his involvement in the whole thing," he said, "but I know what I saw. It was intentional, without a doubt."
Vangelo said he received several e-mails yesterday from other fans who said they witnessed the sick scene and offered to testify on the cop's behalf.
Matthew Clemmens was charged with simple assault, reckless endangerment, harassment, disorderly conduct and related offenses. No one answered the door at his modest home on Hassemer Avenue in Cherry Hill yesterday. According to court records, he did not post bail.
Dave Clemmens said his nephew is the oldest of three children and worked at his father Gary's trucking company around the corner. Matthew had never been in trouble before, his uncle said, and despite being 21, is just a "kid."
"He comes from an average, hardworking family," he said.
Clemmens' attorney, Richard Hark, declined to comment, saying he would not "try the case in the media."
Vangelo described the incident as the most "vile and disgusting thing" he's ever seen, and in the court of public opinion yesterday, Clemmens was indeed vilified.
An anti-Clemmens Facebook group also sprouted up, its mission to inform the world that he was the derogatory term for a certain feminine hygiene product. A fan of the group posted an image of Clemmens, with the word "Pukemon" imprinted across the top.
Phillies spokeswoman Bonnie Clark acknowledged that the stink from Clemmens's behavior could linger.
"It's unfortunate that one fan could impact the perception that thousands of Phillies fans have anything but a positive experience when they come out to Citizens Bank Park," she said in a statement.