49 Responses

  1. ulysesmsu at |

    There are 2 problems with this otherwise very interesting list.

    First, Armbrister didn't *intentionally* interfere with Fisk. At least, you don't know that he did. Whether umpire Larry Barnett should have called interference–which doesn't require an intentional act–is a continuing debate. If you saw the game, which I did *when it was played*, you would know that Fisk threw wildly to 2nd because he FIRST hesitated and hitched a throw to 1st. Armbrister was not in contact with him when he threw to 2nd, as your narrative implies.

    Second, you left out Ken Burkhart's infamous call in the 1970 World Series between the Orioles and the Reds, where he called out the Reds' runner at the plate when the Orioles' catcher tagged the runner with the mitt while the ball was in his other hand. This is surely one of the most infamous calls ever.

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    1. Dave K at |

      Agreed. I think Fisk interfered with Armbrister. He obstructed a baserunner while fielding a bunt. That's called "catcher's interference." Armbrister s/have been awarded first base. Sox fans s/be glad they got away with one there.

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      1. Bryan H at |

        Actually, Defensive interference (commonly called Catchers interference) is when a fielder (the catcher) hinders or prevents the batter from hitting the ball (OBR 2.0 Interference (b). This has nothing to do with the situation explained here. What you are describing is called obstruction. Offensive interference is an act by the team at bat which interferes with,obstructs, impedes, hinders or confuses any fielder attempting to make a play. Obstruction is the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of the ball and not in the act of fielding the ball, impedes the progress of any runner.

        I really do wish people (especially tv commentators) would take the time to read and understand the official rules of baseball instead of pulling the old sandlot myths out of their hats

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        1. Dave K at |

          Thank you for correcting me Bryan H. It was “obstruction” not interference on Fisk’s part. I apologize.

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      2. bigyaz at |

        No, that is not called “catcher’s interference.” If you’ve never umpired or read the rulebook don’t just make things up.

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  2. Cory at |

    Hi Dana, You wrote "And then, after intentionally walking the bases loaded, the Royals’ pinch hitter, Dane Iorg, hit the game-winning, two-run single with two outs, securing the comeback victory for the Royals. "

    There was actually just one out when the Royals won the game.
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/KCA/KCA19

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  3. Pete at |

    I'm sorry but the ball did bounce. I will not read the rest of this as you are stating opinion as though it is fact.

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  4. Other Pete at |

    Where is Ken Burkhart’s call at the plate in the 1970 World Series? That one was ugly because this photo (http://www.authenticsignedsports.com/prodimgs/prod_9252-jx1e46.jpg) showed up everywhere the next day.

    Also, in defense of AJ Pierzynski's "strike out," let me say that people don't look at that situation from a perspective of baseball fundamentals. Anytime there is a blocked third strike in the dirt, the catcher should ALWAYS tag the runner or throw to first to be safe. A.J. is a smart catcher, knew the situation and made a heads up play running to first. Josh Paul, a career backup catcher, was not thinking and blew it. I think it's tough to blame the ump for this one. If Paul had obeyed the fundamentals and done his job, the game would have gone into extras.

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  5. Jeff at |

    I'm fairly certin that at the time of the pine tar game there was nothing in the rulebook about what to do if there was too much pine tar on the bat. McClelland had to make up what to do on the spot and the rule was added later.

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  6. bruce cheung at |
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  7. Dario at |

    The Imperfect Call in Armando Galarraga’s Perfect Game is number ONE… i still can't believe that "stupidity"

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  8. Drew at |

    I disagree with #8. I firmly believe that the ball bounced on the ground and into Paul's mitt. If I understand that rule right, that makes it a "no catch" and Paul should have tagged Pierzynski because of that. The umpire's confusion didn't help, but he stated afterward that something sounded funny and he clearly didn't call Pierzynski out. The only one that really made a mistake was Josh Paul.

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  10. Dave K at |

    Detroit Tigers fan here. #2 DOES NOT BELONG ON THIS LIST. First of all, Jason Donald was out by an eyelash, it took several replays for me to see that.Secondly, it didn't change who won the game, which technically is the only reason you're out there. As Herm Edwards would say…"you play to win the game." Not to set records…. #7 also does not belong on here. Fisk INTERFERED WITH ARMBRISTER, not the other way around.

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    1. Paul B at |

      #2 ABSOLUTELY belongs on the list. A perfect game is such a rare thing, more rare than a world series victory even. And to have one blown call take that away from a pitcher is heartbreaking! You obviously have not played much baseball, and OBVIOUSLY have never been a pitcher. If you had, you would realize how horrible that call was, and the affect that the call had. That was made pretty clear by the reaction of the umpire who made the call, who was in tears because he was so upset about what his mistake had done. And the runner was out by AT LEAST a half step or more. It was very obvious to me the very first time I watched the play. The list is titled The Worst Calls In Baseball History, not the worst calls that changed who won the game. This play definately belongs at #2, if not #1.

      Reply
  11. sthsideaussie at |

    I think you’ve left out an interference on Reggie Jackson in the ALCS when he was with the Yankees. In a rundown play Jackson purposely moved his backside into the path of a throw from one infielder intended for another. The ball bounced off Jackson allowing him to safely move to 2nd base. The play was argued heatedly but as usual the umpire won the argument and the Yankess won a close game.

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  12. Leigh at |

    Learn to use a dictionary, Dana.

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  13. Leigh at |

    Holy christ, learn to use a dictionary, Dana.

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  14. Presto668 at |

    You're wrong on #10.

    There was no rule specifically covering that case, so the umpires pieced it together. The rules at the time said that you were out if you hit an illegally-batted ball. An illegally-batted ball was one that was hit with an illegal bat. An illegal bat was one that had pine tar more than 18 inches from the end. Ergo, the umpires were right and Brett should have been out.

    The umpires did not display "utter ignorance" of the rules. I suspect they knew more than you do. Sorry.

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    1. Henny at |

      Presto is right 100%. There were three rules which were applicable, and they flowed one into the other just as he outlines. The umps in the Pine Tar game made the right call. MacPhail didn’t like the rules and he failed to back-up the correct call made by the umps. If you don’t like the rules, change them going forward, but MacPhail threw his umps under the bus. Actually, MacPhail didn’t like George Steinbrenner and many have speculated that’s why he overruled the umps.

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  15. Steve at |

    Dana:

    You say that had Denkinger called Orta out, the Cardinals would have celebrated their second World Series in the 80′s. You also write that “(l)ater in this unjustly continued inning…”

    For an inning to end, it takes three outs. Orta was the lead-off batter. Had he been called out, there would have been one out. The Cardinals needed to get two more outs. Who knows what would have happened.

    These were professional ball players. If they couldn’t get over a stupid call, they didn’t deserve to win. Please don’t justify their inability because the call didn’t go their way. Losing 11-0 says more about the Cardinals the it does about Denkinger’s call the previous game.

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  16. Tom at |

    This list is OK … if baseball history started in the 1970s. Any list of the worst calls in baseball history HAS to have “Merkel’s Boner” of 1908 as its #1 worst call. And I’d bet there was at least one more really bad call in the next 60 years too.

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  17. Scott at |

    I don’t know. The Pine Tar incident is famous, but being one of the worst calls ever is a bit of a stretch. Same with the Galarraga play. It was a close play, but since it was a near perfect game, everyone will remember it. I’m sure there are hundreds of worse plays that simply aren’t memorable.

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  18. bigyaz at |

    “…utter ignorance of the rules demonstrated by umpire Tim McClelland.”

    The only utter ignorance here is your knowledge of the rules of baseball. In fact, the rule exists and McClelland was put in a position where he couldn’t just pretend it didn’t exist.

    The league overruled him with a tortured explanation regarding the spirit of the rule. I have no problem with that decision (I hate having games decided by ticky-tack calls or rules), but at no point was it suggested McClelland interpreted the rule incorrectly.

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  19. d at |

    You list should be called the most controversial calls of all time not the worst. George Brett should have been called out by the letter of the rule, but not the spirit. The rule clearly stated how much pine tar could legally be applied to the bat and Brett violated that. But it was incredibly cheap to wait till after the homerun to challenge it, and since it had no effect on the hitting of that homerun the umpire should have used his common sense and ignored the rule.
    Also the third strike from AJ clearly brushes the ground video replay shows it redirect, the controversy comes in whether the umpire called him out whether right or not would have rendered him out at that point. But it should have been basic fundamental baseball to tag out the hitter when its even close. The irony is that Josh Paul came up through the White Sox’s farm system and the basic fundamentals that should have taught him to tag out the hitter should have been taught by the Sox.
    As for the Knoublach play, I am not really sure about it since I have never seen it in real action, but if the tag was as far off as stated; then it is entirely posible that the runner was out of the basepath in which case he could have been called out without being tagged. (Again I have never seen it so I dont know if this was the case).
    If you view the Galaraga “perfect game” call you will also see that although the ball beat the runner to the bag; the first baseman readjust the ball in his glove and it does not come to rest in his glove until after the runner passes the bag. So eventhough that was not what the umpire was calling, and he admits his mistake. The call potentially is correct although it is the letter of the rule and not the spirit of the rule again.
    And lastly the Fisk play, any host of calls could have been made. If the contact was not intentional the umpire can avoid calling it interference since the runner has equal right to the basepath as the catcher has right to the ball. And while it is not called “catcher interference” if a fielder interfers with the runners ability to reach the subsequent base by making contact with the runner, all runners are awarded the next base, so the umpire could have called everyone safe. Or he could have deemed that the runner interfered with the fielder’s ability to field the ball, which would have rulled the runner (bunter) out and caused the baserunner to have to return to first, in fact he could have deemed that without the interference a double play would have occured and he could rule both runners out. Since there is so much gray area, the call ultimately is up to the umpire
    It is clear the writer of this article is a Boston Red Sox fan since nearly every call he complains about is in favor of a rival of his “beloved” but ultimately crappy team. If he had a clear understanding of the rules, and was unbiased there are many more demanding blown calls (like any call ever made by CB Buckner because he is unbelievably aweful)

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  20. West at |

    The worst call of all time has to be in 2009 ALDS when Phil Cuzzi calls Joe Mauer’s fair ball foul when he was 10 feet away and was so clearly fair a blind person could have seen it.

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    1. Rickdiculous at |

      Agree with the 2009 Mauer fair ball. I think the people who put this list together already had 50% of the top ten worst plays of all time going in favor of the Yankees and perhaps 6 out of 10 might have pushed it over the top. I don’t know, seems a little hmm that many of these “botched” calls happen to secure a post season Yankee victory.

      Reply
  21. nike tn at |

    Same with the Galarraga play. It was a close play, but since it was a near perfect game, everyone will remember it. As for the Knoublach play, I am not really sure about it since I have never seen it in real action, but if the tag was as far off as stated;

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  22. custom nfl jerseys at |

    If you view the Galaraga “perfect game” call you will also see that although the ball beat the runner to the bag; the first baseman readjust the ball in his glove and it does not come to rest in his glove until after the runner passes the bag. So even though that was not what the umpire was calling, and he admits his mistake. The call potentially is correct although it is the letter of the rule and not the spirit of the rule again.

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  23. Steven R at |

    The Flip play with Jeter, where Jeremy Giambi was safe, but was called out at home!

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  24. ä¼ å¥?ç§?æ?? at |

    I actually knew about the majority of of this, but even so, I still found it informative. Nice job!

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  25. Dave K at |

    This list needs to include Harry Wendlstadt. In 1968 Don Drysdale was going for a record of 56 consecutive scoreless innings pitched. When he reached 50, he loaded the bases against the SF Giants. Rich Dietz came to the plate and Drysdale beaned him. Streak over, right? Wrong. Home plate umpire Harry Wendlstadt ruled Dietz did not try hard enough to get out of the way. Trouble is, this rule only applies if the batter is hovering over home plate and is IN the strike zone when hit. Dietz was standing with his heels on the chalk of the outside of the batters box, about as far from home plate as possible. This was not some bang-bang play like Jim Joyce or Don Denkinger. This was a case of an umpire giving a pitcher a record, even if he didn’t earn it.

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    1. Paul B at |

      That is not what the rule says. The batter does not have to be in the strike zone. The rule says that the batter must make some sort of effort to move out of the way. He cannot just stand there and “let” a pitch hit him. You must make an effort to get out of the way.

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      1. Dave K at |

        OK Paul B,….fair enough. But tell me this. Can you site ONE other time when a batter was not awarded first base because he didn’t make an effort to get out of the way? I’ve seen HUNDREDS when the batter made no such effort and still was sent to first. Also, if there was no record on the line, and the bases were empty and Dietz made the same “non-effort” …do you believe Wendlstadt would have kept him at home? No chance.

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        1. Paul B at |

          I have seen it many times before Dave. Can I name a specific time right now.. no. I’m sure if I did a little research I could find more than one. But I know I have seen it called on a batter when I was pitching. The gray area in the rule, as with most, is that it’s the umpires call… what they consider “making an effort”. But to answer your question, Yes I have seen it happen before.

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  26. The Mad Zak at |

    #7

    “When Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk attempted to field the ball, Armbrister intentionally collided with him….”

    What are you, a die hard Red Sox fan? Armbruster did not “intentionally” collide with him. That is the whole issue with the call. Ed Armbruster was a righ-handed hitter and he left the batter’s box for first when Fisk ran into him. It was a judgement call, not an obvious non-call as you put it.

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  27. Scott at |

    This is complete and utter garbage – when I read at the end of the article that “Dana Bashor has absolutely no formal writing credentials whatsoever” I laughed out loud, because I can’t say that I was in the least bit surprised.

    The pine tar incident, as many have said before, was called absolutely correctly according to the rules at the time. The league then proceeded to come up with some garbage about the “spirit of the rule”. So ultimately, the league CHANGED THE RULES OF BASEBALL to deal with this particular protest. While I don’t necessarily disagree with the league that the “spirit of the rules” was not violated, it seems very strange that a league would change its rules like that.

    I find it ridiculously hard to believe that the presence of Don Denkinger behind the plate caused a team to lose a game 11-0. 11-0!!! That had NOTHING to do with the umpire, and EVERYTHING to do with the team. BTW, Whitey Herzog wrote in his book that he wishes he would have asked Commissioner Ueberroth to overrule the call on the field. If this had happened, I certainly hope the umpires would have walked off the field.

    Also, there is a difference between “your” and “you’re” and it’s pathetically embarassing that a piece of writing can be “published” with such disgusting grammatical errors.

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  28. Peter Boucher at |

    Correct me if I am wrong, but wasn’t there an incident in the 1969 World Series between the Miracle Mets vs. the Orioles. I was a youngster when it happened, but from what I heard, a Mets batter was up to the plate, and struck out swinging on a very low, into the dirt pitch. Mets manager Gil Hodges went to the plate to inspect the ball. The ball had a black smudge on it and was in question as if it was shoe polish from the cleats that the batter had on. After a few minutes, the umpire agreed that it was shoe polish and ruled it a “hit by a pitch” on the Mets batter and the Mets batter was allowed to go to first base which in turn became a rally for the Mets and them eventually won the World Series. Would anybody have information about this as I was only 7 years old when it purportedly happened

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    1. Dave K at |

      You described it almost perfectly Pete. I was 5 at the time. The only thing you got wrong was, the batter did NOT swing. If he had, he couldn’t be awarded first. EVEN if a ball hits you, you can’t go to first if you swing. No one thought the umps ruling was controversial…..except for Earl Weaver.

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      1. Peter Boucher at |

        Hello Dave. Thank For the Info on that incident and correcting the question that I had. And as far as Earl Weaver is concerned, he was a great manager but his temper is what the history books are made out of. I do believe that he holds the record for being ejected the most times than any other manger in major league history, another stat that I will have to look up. Again Thanks, Dave

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      2. M234 at |

        Dave K,a batter can try to RUN to first if the catcher DROPS the ball even if the batter does swing.But,you are right,because the rule I have stated can only happen if the catcher drops the ball,but I have read the catcher didn’t drop the ball.I just wanted to say this.

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  29. Danny at |

    While #1 was a bad call, you are wrong to blame the Dekinger for the series loss. First of all, you failed to mention Frank White getting called out stealing second in the fourth inning, when he was safe. And would of scored on the next batters single. Also to say that the 9th inning was “unjustly continued” is flat out wrong. Even if Denkinger made the right call, that would of been out number one. I guess you must be a new baseball fan. Each team gets 3 outs, so the “unjustly continued inning” would of continued anyway. Next, Orta ending up making the first out of the inning later. He was thrown out at third. He never scored so the play at first didn’t matter. And don’t forget the lack of hustle between the Cardinals catcher and first baseman, that let an easy foul pop up drop that gave Balboni another chance. And the Cardinals players blaming the game 7 loss on the game 6 call, says a lot about their characters. It is unbelievable that one bad call can’t make an entire professional team become quitters in the following game.

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  30. Mike at |

    Good list! That call blowing the kid’s perfect game was brutal.

    On a side note, what made Knobloch’s phantom tag (#3) even worse was that a different blew the exact same call in the previous game. He offered a public apology for his phantom tag call. Then, the same thing happens the next game.

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  31. Mike DeJong at |

    You missed the blown call that cost the Blue Jays a triple play against the Braves in the 1992 Series.

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  32. cheap jerseys at |

    i agree with mike deJong’s opinien

    Reply
  33. Jeff Carlisle at |

    When I was a kid (long ago) there was a comic strip called Little Abner, about a handsome, muscle bound hillbilly who the ladies loved. A smitten Boston lass pleaded with him “I will follow you to the ends of the earth..even Brookline if necessary!!” Such is the endless and nauseating provincialism of Bostonians and Red Sox fans. This list is a bizarre rant of Yankee hatred..nothing more, nothing less. I’m a Reds fan yet felt compelled to point out the absurdity of this ‘list” ..after I got through laughing.
    Think of the math…there have been at least 20 teams (now 30) since 1962. Each plays 162 games a year and had, therefore, between 3%-5% chance to benefit from the countless questionable calls over those 45 years. Now if a team had 10% of the worst calls-double the natural chances-that would be ONE on a list of 10. If they had QUADRUPLE the chance of benefitting from bad calls, it’s 20%…2 of 10. Yet somehow, someway, at TWELVE times the rate of chance, the Yankees gained from 60% (6 of 10) of all the very worst calls in baseball according to the author of this-not worth scrawling back to get his name. The Redsox , according to this lunatic list benefitted…NOT AT ALL zero, zilch. In fact , since each franchise had between 3-5% chance of being HURT by bad calls..it’s put forth by this venomous Yankee hater that his beloved Sawks were directly HURT by 20% of those horrible calls -against my Reds in the Series in which Tony Perez made The Bearded lady’s junk ball disappear into the night-at Fenway..to win the Series on the road. The other “outrage” against Boston?..of course, a call favoring the Yanks. If you can’t make a list remotely objective, pal,…give it up As I said, I’m a Cincy fan but I know that no list, making even an insincere pass at fairness, could omit Yogi Berra’s clear tagging of Jackie Robinson attempting to steal home. But fairness isn’t part of the agenda, now is it?

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  34. MS64436 at |

    The Denkinger call was a non factor in the result of the game because Orta was the 1st out on a play at third. So he didn’t score. Plus the 2nd base ump had blown an attempted steal attempt by White earlier in the game on a high tag. White got his foot to the base in time. Royals played the 25 of the 27 outs of the game and blew them out in 7th game. Cardinals always want to play the victim card.

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  35. Kirk at |

    Both of those Angels calls always make me so mad. The Angels always seem to get screwed when it comes to umpires making important calls like those

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  36. throwbackguy at |

    its not the worst

    Reply

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