The crowd at Comerica Park roared its approval when Detroit’s tying homer against Oakland was upheld by a video review.
John Bendzinski might have been the happiest fan in the Motor City.
”I was relieved,” Bendzinski said during Game 4, which Detroit won 8-6 Tuesday night to send the AL division series to a decisive fifth game in Oakland. ”These guys were all going after the ball and I cleared them all out. It was unbelievable, baby!”
Instead of joining infamous fans Jeffrey Maier and Steve Bartman, the suburban Detroit chef is simply a guy with a story to tell his friends.
Tigers slugger Victor Martinez connected in the seventh inning, but the drive to right was disputed by the A’s because two fans appeared to interfere with the ball that right fielder Josh Reddick leaped to catch.
After looking at replays, fans cheered when they saw an umpire twirl his right finger in the air to signal the homer stood.
”It was clear he was not going to catch the ball, so it was clearly going to be a home run,” said Gary Darling, the crew chief and right-field umpire. ”There wasn’t any other evidence on replay to turn it another way.”
Reddick said he thought the homer should have been negated by fan interference because there was no doubt in his mind he was going to catch the ball.
”It changed the momentum for them, it changed the momentum for us,” he said. ”It’s totally frustrating that a fan can influence the game.”
Bendzinski was one of the fans in front row who reached over a railing to try to catch the ball.
The season-ticket holder said he does know there are rules regarding fans and balls in play.
”Dude, I was getting that ball no matter what!” he shouted. ”I’m not supposed to reach over, but I didn’t. I was right on the line.”
The Tigers, facing elimination, scored another run in the seventh inning, and three more in the eighth before holding on to earn another trip to Oakland for Game 5 on Thursday night.
Bartman was cursed by Chicago Cubs fans in 2003 after deflecting a foul popup away from Moises Alou with Chicago just five outs away from the World Series.
Maier was the 12-year-old New York Yankees fan who reached over the outfield wall in the 1996 playoffs and caught Derek Jeter’s homer away from Baltimore’s Tony Tarasco.