Orioles fans watching the Houston Astros face the Boston Red Sox in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series on Wednesday night surely saw the parallels to the 1996 ALCS, when then-12-year-old New York Yankees fan Jeffrey Maier reached over the fence to interfere with Orioles right fielder Tony Tarasco’s ability to catch a fly ball from Derek Jeter.
The umpires ruled it a home run for Jeter, tying Game 1. And it turned the tide of the ALCS, with the Yankees eventually winning the series in five games.
It was kind of a Maier call in reverse Wednesday against the Astros.
Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts appeared to go into the stands to catch a fly ball off the bat of José Altuve. An Astros fan hit Betts’ glove in the stands. The umpires, backed up by replay officials, called Altuve out for fan interference.
However, the Major League Baseball rule does not allow for interference to be called if the player enters the stands. Altuve’s potential two-run homer was wiped out. The Astros ended up losing, 8-6, and trail the series, three games to one.
Reaction on Twitter was immediate:
MLB replay decision is going to fuel big-market conspiracy theories. Rule says the fan must reach into the field of play to interfere and it looked like those fans were standing upright. Jeffrey Maier in reverse?