After two long drawn out weeks, Zach Hample, the man who caught Alex Rodriguez’ 3,000th hit, finally decided to give the ball to Rodriguez. Ultimately, Hample traded the ball to the Yankees in exchange for a $150,000 donation to his favorite charity Pitch In For Baseball and some Yankees memorabilia.
It’s good to see that Hample’s odyssey finished with a sizable donation to charity. Because over the past two weeks, Hample milked everything he could have out of catching the ball. He went on radio shows, he made public appearances and he promoted his book: How To Snag Major League Baseballs.
Though the Hample saga is coming to an end, this debacle was publicized enough that it will have its own place in history. That being said, now, we will look at 10 other fan moments that have etched its place in baseball lore.
#10: Dodge, Duck, Dip, Dive and Dodge
Boyfriends and girlfriends are meant to protect one another. Somehow, this guy didn’t get the memo. On April 2, 2013 St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Pete Kozma launched a ball into the center field seats. The ball headed towards a man and his girlfriend. It looked as if the man was going to try to catch it, but no. He dodged it, allowing it to hit his girlfriend right in the neck.
Making matters worse, the ball rolled to another fan and the boyfriend probably got dumped.
#9: The Taser
This guy may have some regrets for running on the field. Not only will he be thrown in jail, but he’ll also have something to remember the experience by – a scar from the taser prongs.
#8: The Ball Switch
In a regular season game between the Texas Rangers and the Toronto Blue Jays, one shrewd young fan pulled a fast one. During the game, the Blue Jays third base coach fielded a foul ball. The third base coach then tossed it into the seats, to the young fan. Immediately after catching the ball, the young fan turned around and gave a ball to a pretty girl behind him. However, he kept the ball the coach threw him for himself and gave the girl a decoy ball. Though this is more humorous than controversial, with this play, this kid’s morals are certainly called into question.
#7: The Baby-Catch
Considering there are 2,430 MLB games a year, naturally, a select few games will feature parents holding babies making one handed catches. However, a game on June 23, 2015 featured some controversy involving one of these parents.
Chicago Cubs hitter, Jason Hammel popped a foul ball up near the seats on the first base side. Carefully surveying his surroundings, Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez reached for the ball, only to have it stolen by a man holding a baby. In 2015, the replay age, the Dodgers were able to challenge the play and Hammel was ruled out because of fan interference.
As you continue, you will see that had the number 1 and number 2 moments on our list occurred in 2015, they would have surely had a different outcome.
#6: The Mob
On October 14 (you’ll see this date again), 1976, Chris Chambliss hit a walk-off home run that sent the New York Yankees into the World Series. Not only did the crowd erupt, but thousands stormed the field. People mobbed Chambliss, congratulated him and even tried to steal his helmet. Through all the bedlam, Chambliss still needed to touch all the bases. So, he barreled through multiple fans and eventually touched home – officially sending the Yankees to the World Series.
#5: Disco Demolition Night
On July 12, 1979, the Chicago White Sox hosted what turned into one of the worst promotional nights ever: Disco Demolition Night. The White Sox offered .98 cent tickets to anyone willing to donate a disco record to be blown up. The day was scheduled to be a doubleheader and after the first game, members from a local radio station were going to blow up the records on the field. Initially, it seemed like a huge success; the White Sox stadium was to capacity and all the fans wanted to be part of the event.
But as the White Sox and radio personnel were blowing up the records, the demolition went awry. Thousands of fans stormed the field and began burning records themselves. As the night went on, more and more fans kept storming the field, causing great amounts of havoc. Ultimately, because of the field conditions, the second game of the doubleheader was not played. The White Sox had to forfeit.
#4: The Young Admirers
On a chilly 1974 night, Hank Aaron took left-handed pitcher Al Downing deep. It wasn’t just another home run; it was his 715th home run – making him the all-time Home Run King. Just as Aaron was rounding second base, two young, congratulatory fans greeted him. They followed him from second to third, until letting him round home by himself. The two, seventeen-year old fans were arrested, but not before they were forever engraved in a historical moment.
#3: 10 Cent Beer Night
The 1970s had some awful promotional ideas. In fact, 10 Cent Beer Night was even worse than Disco Demolition Night. The scene: Cleveland Stadium on June 4, 1974. The Cleveland Indians hosted the Texas Rangers in a regular season game. A couple weeks earlier, when the two teams were playing in Texas, the Indians and the Rangers had a brawl. When asked if he were worried about the how the Cleveland fans would treat him when him and his team went to Cleveland, Billy Martin, the manager of the Rangers said he wasn’t because the Indians’ fan attendance was so poor.
To draw more fans, Indians management conceived of the idea of 10 Cent Beer Night. It was an utter disaster. Fans were rowdy the whole night. Fans ran across the field, fans danced on the Rangers dugout, and fans even threw hot dogs at the opposing players. However, in the bottom of the 9th inning, chaos enveloped Cleveland.
A drunken fan invaded the field and stole one of the Rangers hats. While trying to get away, the fan fell down. While the fan was on the ground, the Ranger outfielder kicked him and took back his own hat. Cleveland fans went manic. They flocked onto the field, throwing bottles and flailing their fists at whatever was in their way. Security was too outnumbered to do anything. Ultimately, the SWAT team was called in and the riot was quelled: but, not before the damage was done. Players were injured, the field was trashed, the umpire was hit with a chair, and the Indians were forced to forfeit the game.
#2: Jeffrey Maier
Perhaps most positively remembered fan controversy in recent memory (at least for Yankees fans) was when Jeffrey Maier literally stole Game 1 of the 1996 ALDS from the Baltimore Orioles. There was one out in the bottom of the eighth inning and the Orioles were leading the New York Yankees 4-3. Baltimore pitcher Armando Benitez threw a young rookie shortstop by the name of Derek Jeter a high fastball. Jeter connected and sent it to right field, taking right fielder Tony Tarasco back to the warning track.
Tarasco timed his jump and leaped. However, just as Tarasco was going to make an attempt on the ball, a 12-year old fan named Jeffrey Maier reached over the fence and snatched the ball. The umpire called it a homerun. Tarasco along with the entire Orioles team went livid. However, it was all for naught. The umpire remained resolute in his decision and the home run counted – tying the game 4-4. The Yankees went on to win 5-4 and forever more, this game was known as the Jeffrey Maier game.
#1: Steve Bartman
What happened to Bartman was the polar opposite of what happened to Maier. On October 14, 2003, Game 6 of the NLCS, the Chicago Cubs were five outs away from the World Series. With a 3-0 lead over the Florida Marlins, and Mark Prior, their best pitcher, on the mound, the game all but seemed over. That was…until Bartman happened. With a runner on second, Luis Castillo hit a foul pop up near the left field seats. Cubs left fielder Moises Alou drifted over to the seats, timed his jump and leapt, only to have a dorky looking fan wearing a Cubs hat and headphones knock the ball away from Alou. Disgusted, Alou screamed and said some choice words to the fans.