Jeffrey Maier episode revisits Yankees, Harrison Bader

A fan caught the ball hit by Harrison Bader against the Oakland A's at Yankee Stadium on May 10, 2023.
John Allen
Thursday May 11, 2023

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After 26 years and seven months, the Yankees have another Jeffrey Maier moment on Wednesday. But this time the player was Harrison Bader, the opponents were the Oakland Athletics, the place was the new Yankee Stadium, and the fan was yet to be named.

The fan interference gave Harrison Bader a 3-run homer and the Yankees a 4-0 lead that went a long way to enable them an 11-3 victory.

Harrison Bader experiences the Jeffrey Maier incident

During the Athletics-Yankees game on Wednesday, in the first inning, Harrison Bader hit a fly ball to right field. Athletics’ right fielder JJ Bleday ran after it and when he jumped to catch the ball, a fan in the front row with their glove over the wall appeared to catch the long fly before him. It was given a home run.

After the fan sitting in the front row stretched out his own glove to snag the 362-foot fly ball heading to cross the wall before Bleday could, the Athletics protested. They claimed that the fan caught it just when their fielder was about to get hold of it with his own glove. Laz Diaz, who was at the first base, called it a home run. However, he asked for a review after the A’s protest to ensure the call was accurate.

While the crew chief reviewed the play, the stadium held its breath in anticipation. However, the review didn’t take long, and the umpire’s decision stood. Despite the fact that Statcast revealed that Harrison Bader’s hit won’t be a home run in any other ballpark except in the Bronx, it still counted. With this hit, Bader secured his third home run in his eighth game of the season, further adding to his impressive performance.

Harrison Bader had recently returned from the injured list, where he had been out for the first month of the season with a strained oblique. Nonetheless, he came back stronger than ever, providing an immediate boost to the team’s lineup. He has been hitting exceptionally well, with a .429 batting average (12-for-28) and 11 RBIs, making him one of the team’s most valuable players.

Overall, Harrison Bader’s hit proved to be a game-changer, putting the Yankees ahead of the Athletics 4-0. The team’s fans erupted in cheers as Harrison Bader made his way around the bases, basking in the glory of his impressive performance. It was clear that his return had made a significant impact on the team, and everyone was excited to see what he would do next.

The original Jeffrey Maier incident

Harrison Bader’s controversial home run brought back memories of the Maier incident in 1996 at Old Yankee Stadium, where Derek Jeter hit a fly ball to right field in Game 1 of the ALCS between the Yankees and the Orioles. Jeffrey Maier, a young Yankee fans, reached over the wall to catch it. He interfered with Orioles right fielder Tony Tarasco’s attempt to catch it and got the ball instead. The umpires ruled it a home run, and the Yankees went on to win the game, as well as the series and the World Series championship.

Harrison Bader is carrying the Yankees since his return

Since his return from the injured list, Harrison Bader has been on a hot streak with plenty of favorable outcomes. He has gone 12-for-28, which translates to a batting average of .429 and an OPS of 1.341. Additionally, he has hit two triples, three home runs, and driven in 11 RBIs in his first eight games back.

When Harrison Bader hit his home run in the first inning of Wednesday’s game, he wasn’t confident that it would make it out of the park. In reality, the hit only had a distance of 362 feet, which would only result in a home run at Yankee Stadium.

“I knew I hit it pretty good but I didn’t know if I hit it high enough,” Bader told reporters. “I’m still kind of getting used to the wall over there. Obviously, there’s a distance out there I’m kind of used to in the past. Obviously, being in St. Louis it was a little bigger out there. Out of the box, I was thinking double. I was really fortunate it turned up being a home run.”

Is it legal?

After Harrison Bader hit a home run in the first inning, the umpires reviewed it to determine whether there was any fan interference, ultimately concluding that it was a legitimate home run. Some baseball analysts questioned whether the fan’s actions constituted interference and the umpires decided to review the play. Ultimately, they confirmed the initial call, allowing Bader to complete the home run. The question remains whether this decision was justifiable.

Based on the rules of the game, the fan’s action was not considered illegal interference since the ball was already leaving the field. The rules state that fans are not obligated to stand back and allow the outfielder space to make an attempt to catch the ball when it is leaving the field. If the fan catches it, it is considered a legal catch.

The replay video makes it evident that the ball was indeed going out of the stadium. The umpires, who made the decision, based their ruling on this visual evidence. According to the rules:

“When a spectator clearly prevents a fielder from catching a fly ball by reaching onto the field of play, the batter shall be ruled out. But no interference is called if a spectator comes in contact with a batted or thrown ball without reaching onto the field of play — even if a fielder might have caught the ball had the spectator not been there.”

It is evident that the fan who caught Harrison Bader’s three-run home run did not commit any wrongdoing based on the MLB’s rules. Although there have been and will continue to be contentious fan interference calls, this instance seems to be not one of them for the Yankees.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

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