Jeffrey Maier and the case for fan interference

Thank you for the brief article, "Interference call in Astros-Red Sox playoff game conjures Jeffrey Maier and the 1996 Orioles-Yankees ALCS" (Oct. 18).

This year's playoffs had already struck a nerve when it was noted that the Boston Red Sox had won 100 games in a season for just the fourth time in their 118-year history. By contrast, the Orioles did that five times in 12 years during the Earl Weaver and Jim Palmer era (1969-1971, 1979-1980) when I was growing up.

Then came Wednesday night's Red Sox-Astros American League Championship Series (ALCS) game. Somehow, it was ruled "spectator interference" when Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts went into the stands to try to catch an apparent home run ball and his glove hit the hand of an Astros fan, even though the rule only applies to fan interference in the field of play.

By contrast, recall Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS between the Orioles and New York Yankees. The Orioles were leading, 4-3, in the eighth inning, when Derek Jeter hit a long fly ball that was about to be caught for an inning-ending out. However, Yankees fan Jeff Maier reached way over the fence to deflect the ball away from Baltimore outfielder Tony Tarasco's glove and into the stands. That was clearly spectator interference, but instead of Jeter being ruled out, he was wrongly gifted a game-tying home run. The Yankees won the game in 11 innings and later advanced to that year's World Series.

The Orioles, meanwhile, haven't been back to the World Series since 1983.

Stephen A. Silver, San Francisco, Calif.

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