Paging Jeffrey Maier: Umpiring Crew Fails to Overturn a Victor Martinez Home Run After Fan Interference (Video + GIFs)
Last night, a Detroit Tigers fan named John Bendzinski nearly became his team’s Steve Bartman. Instead, thanks to the umpiring crew, he became his team’s Jeffrey Maier.
Bartman, of course, is the Cubs fan who reached over the railing and prevented Moises Alou from catching a foul ball and recording a crucial out late in Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS. The Cubs would go on to implode, losing that game, and then losing Game 7 while choking away the chance for their first trip to the World Series since 1945.
Maier, meanwhile, was the 12-year-old Yankees fan who reached over the fence to catch a Derek Jeter pop fly over the head of the Orioles’ Tony Tarasco during Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS, making it a home run instead of an out. And while Bartman was vilified by Cubs fans, Maier was a hero to Yankees fans.
So what happened last night in Detroit during Game 5 of the ALDS between the Athletics and Tigers? Well, Detroit’s Victor Martinez hit an opposite field shot to right field that was going to land somewhere just over the wall. Athletics outfielder Josh Reddick had a shot at making the catch; however, a Detroit fan reached over the railing and got his paws on it first.
Immediately, Reddick and center fielder Coco Crisp started gesturing wildly that the fan had interfered. And thankfully, MLB allows the umpires to use instant replay to review such calls. However, after taking a long look at the play, they determined that there was no definitive proof that Reddick would have caught the ball, so the call on the field stood: home run Detroit, game tied 4-4.
Here video of the play:
Here is a still that captures the trajectory of the ball:
And here are a couple of animated GIFs that give you a great look at the interference:
So what do you think? Did the umpires get it right, or should John Bendzinski have joined Steve Bartman in the baseball fan Hall of Shame?
Personally, I think they should have overruled the home run. As a fan of the game, I want to see if Reddick can make that catch and save the game for his club. But that’s just me.