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Jeffrey Maier is an American baseball fan who came into national limelight for his impact on a key Game 1 of the 1996 American League Championship Series.
This game was between the New York Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles. During the game he won infamy by reaching over the homefield fence to snatch a flying ball hit by the Yankees’ Derek Jeter to prevent an almost certain catch from the chasing Tony Tarasco of the Orioles.
The play was declared a Yankees homerun to the chagrin of the Orioles bench and players. He was twelve years old at the time of the incident.
The Jeffrey Maier Homerun and Aftermath
In the game, on October 9 1996, the Orioles were hosted by the Yankees in the playoffs for the first time since the 1996 ACLS. The Yankees ware trailing the Orioles 4-3 in the bottom of the eighth when shortstop Derek Jeter came to the plate against Armando Benitez. Derek arced the ball deep high towards the right field during the eighth inning.
Maier, a twelve year old in the stands, reached over the fence and snagged the ball into his black glove effectively preventing the Oriole’s right fielder, Tony Tarasco from making a play to catch it. This was long before the instant replay came to baseball. Right fielder umpire Richie Garcia declared the play a homerun, not spectator interference hence making the score 4-4. The Orioles manager Davey Johnson protested but the umpire’s decision was upheld. The protest was also denied by the ruling executive council and American Baseball League president Gene Budig.
The Yankees went ahead to win the game in 11 innings with a walk-off home from Bernie Williams, without controversy this time around. They also won both the ACLS and the championship against the Atlanta Braves. As a result, a barrier was erected in 1997 behind the field wall at the Yankee stadium to prevent the incident from recurring. Afterwards, security quickly whisked Maier away to an area under the seats where he was approached by members of the media.
He became something of an instant celebrity, hero and a media sensation in New York while fans of the Orioles in Baltimore quietly clenched their wounded fists. Maier’s life changed from that instance. The media camped at his home and school soliciting interviews from his neighbors and classmates. The New York Daily News bought him tickets to have him sit behind the Yankee dugout for the remaining Yankees postseason games. He was also interviewed in national talk shows. At the age of twelve, Maier had become a baseball legend, Yankees history and Baltimore villain.
Baseball Career and Later Life
Maier, who was brought up in Old Tappan, New Jersey went on to live a relatively normal life. His passion for baseball continued long after his stint with fame. He played baseball in high school brushing shoulders with both opponents and fans. Ten years later he had successful career playing baseball in college.
In fact, he set the Wesleyan University in Connecticut all-time career hits record with 189 hits. This earned him a slot at a workout for major league teams, including the Yankees. As a third baseman and outfielder he was primarily known for his contact hitting and resilience.
In addition, he also played a summer in the New England Collegiate Baseball League for Pittsfield Dukes, a team owned by Dan Duquette, manager of the Orioles. However, he did not make the cut to play ball professionally as he was not selected to join any team in the 2006 Major League Baseball Draft. In and after college, he spent time doing traditional front office baseball duties, as an instructor for Frozen Ropes Baseball Training Center and later as a consultant for the New Haven County Cutters.
Today, Maier lives in Amherst, New Hampshire and works as the director of sales for League Apps, a company that develops league management software, mobile applications, websites and digital sports media for adult recreational sports leagues. He is married to Andrea (a Red Sox fan) with two kids. He watches Yankees games on television though he attended a game at Baltimore’s Camden Yards where he remained anonymous.
The Black Glove
The glove that Jeffrey Maier used to snag Jeter’s home run was sold at an auction for $22,705 on February 22 2015. It was bought by an anonymous private collector who did not reveal what he intended to do with it. Apparently, twenty years after the incident, the glove still generated smiles from Yankees fans and curses from Orioles fans hence explaining the hefty auction price.