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Images | Helping Hand

October 8, 2012

It remains one of the most controversial plays in baseball history (Sports Illustrated)

On October 9, 1996 the life of a 12-year-old boy was significantly altered when he caught a Derek Jeter home run ball, or, if you’re an Orioles fan, caught a Derek Jeter fly out.  In the 8th inning of game 1 of the ALCS, the Yanks’ rookie shortstop strode to the plate with the Bombers trailing 4-3 and down to their last 5 outs.  On the first pitch he saw from Armando Benitez he poked a pitch to deep right field.  That’s when all hell broke loose.

Orioles right fielder Tony Tarasco appeared to settle under the ball with his back against the wall, but as he reached up to catch it a black glove reached out and snatched it away.  Tarasco pleaded with umpire Richie Garcia, manager Davey Johnson was ejected, and the old Stadium rocked with new life as Jeter’s first magical moment knotted the game.  The Yanks would go on to win the game 5-4 in the 11th on a Bernie Williams home run and the Birds have cried foul ever since.

I wanted to be Jeffrey Maier.  I wanted to be the kid who caught the Jeter ball.  He was on the news.  He was on SportsCenter.  He did Letterman.  Hell, I still want to be Jeffrey Maier.  How the Yanks haven’t given him season tickets for life I’ll never understand.

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