Orioles

Orioles

Do you feel old yet? Baltimore's most hated 12-year-old, Jeffrey Maier, is now 36 with three kids and lives in the New England area. 

Maier etched his name in baseball lore when he notoriously reached over the right-field wall at Yankee Stadium and snatched Derek Jeter's fly ball from the playing field and into the stands, resulting in a historically controversial home run in the 1996 American League Championship Series. 

It didn't matter that the replay clearly showed evidence of fan interference or that umpire Rich Garcia admitted after the fact that Jeter should have been called out. There was no replay review back then. The umpire called it a home run, so the initial call stood.

His actions helped the Yankees tie Game 1 of that infamous series against the Orioles, and eventually, win the game in 11 innings. New York would go on to win the series in five games and beat the Braves in the World Series. 

Maier joined WFAN's Sweeny Murti to talk about the play and the two types of reactions he dealt with in the aftermath. 

First, there's the obvious backlash that comes with robbing a team and an entire fan base of an important game. Maier said he understands Orioles fans' feelings on the subject, but that didn't stop the hate mail and unpleasant calls from pouring in. 

The vitriol continued into his baseball career at Wesleyan, where Maier would routinely get thrown at whether he was in the batter's box or out in the field. 

 

"It stuck with me throughout my baseball career," Maier said. "I've been hit several times when I played competitively, certainly with intent. Things were certainly thrown at me at one point in my freshman year at Wesleyan."

For the most part though, people haven't made Maier suffer for something he did as a pre-teen. But then there's the other side of this. The side where he was lauded as a Yankee hero, was given free tickets to games and showered with fan mail from fellow fans across the country. 

Maier even got to meet and spend time with Jeter ahead of sring training the following season. 

"[Jeter] signed a ball for me that said, 'To Jeff, thanks a lot. - Derek Jeter,'" he said. "And he signed a glove that Mizuno had sent me, because Mizuno had gotten a lot of attention because the glove I used [during Game 1] was a Mizuno glove. He signed that and that still sits and resides in our basement as well as a picture I have with him."

For some, like Tony Tarasco, the Orioles' right fielder during the incident, they've been able to put the event behind them in a way. Maier detailed how he met Tarasco years later and how positive the interaction was. 

But for others, this is one of, if not the darkest moment in Orioles history and every detail still stings. There was nothing the Orioles could really do. A 12-year-old cost them the game, and it was against the Yankees to put a cherry on top of it all. 

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