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Mac slams No. 65
NL to review umpire's ruling that disallowed No. 66
Posted: Monday September 21, 1998 08:47 AM
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Mark McGwire's home run total might need an asterisk, after all.
“After further review, it looked like it was a home run,” McGwire said. “The man who caught the ball, he never came across the yellow line.”
Given the unique nature of the Great Home Run Race of 1998, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said the club is appealing to the National League to make the unprecedented move of reversing second-base umpire Bob Davidson's call and awarding the homer.
“The home run chase has drawn attention all over the world,” La Russa said. “Most importantly, the way the inning played out, it didn't make any difference.”
After McGwire's two-out, disputed double, Brian Jordan singled him home and scored on Ron Gant's home run. Had McGwire been stranded, “we wouldn't even have asked, because of the integrity of the game,” La Russa said.
“They asked us to look at it, and that's all I can say right now,” NL spokeswoman Katy Feeney said at Wrigley Field, where she attended “Sammy Sosa Celebration” day.
Feeney said a ruling was expected Monday.
Rule 9.02 (a) of the Official Baseball Rules states: “Any umpire's decision which involves judgment, such as, but not limited to, whether a batted ball is fair or foul, whether a pitch is a strike or a ball, or whether a runner is safe or out, is final.”
“You cannot go and reverse that now no matter what it might mean,” Brewers manager Phil Garner said. “If you're not going to allow replay, then you can't do it on that.”
Davidson, a member of the NL staff since 1983, said he couldn't be swayed by the fact the ball came off McGwire's bat.
“I could care less if he hits 150 home runs,” Davidson said. “As an umpire, you can't get caught up in that.”
Davidson barely had time to spin around, but swears he was in good position to make the call.
“The ball got out there in about half-a-second,” he said. “I got out there as fast as I could and I saw it. When I saw it, the fan was leaning over and the ball hit him below the yellow line. So, that's why I called it a ground-rule double.”
The fan, Michael Chapes, a 31-year-old high school gym teacher from Waterford, Wisconsin, was ejected from the stadium and fined $518 for trespassing.
“I hope Mark McGwire signs my citation,” Chapes told The Associated Press in a phone interview from his home.
After catching the ball with his glove, Chapes was swarmed by the crush of fans, but he insisted he was doubled over a chain-link fence behind the railing, not in front of it as the umpire ruled.
“It was definitely a home run,” Chapes said. “This whole thing makes me sick. I thought I was a part of history, and then the kid snatches the ball from my glove. They took the ball from me and took the home run from him.”
McGwire moved two homers ahead of Sosa with a first-inning shot off Scott Karl that needed no judgment call.
Everybody but Davidson thought McGwire had No. 66 in the fifth inning, when he sent a line drive deep to left-center field off rookie Rod Henderson.
But Davidson ruled that a fan had interfered by reaching over the yellow railing at the 392-foot sign and pulling the ball in.
McGwire was forced to stop at second with a double as the crowd of 52,831 jeered and La Russa protested.
The yellow pipe was installed about 18 inches above the outfield wall padding for the 1983 season, after a fan reached down and snatched a ball from Ben Oglivie's grasp in the 1982 AL playoffs.
It has been the source of several disputes since, mostly because there's a chain-link fence between the padding and the yellow rail, making it difficult for umpires to tell for certain whether a ball clears the rail, hits right in front of it and bounces over or even if a fan reaches over.
Before Roger Maris set his record of 61 homers in 1961, commissioner Ford Frick declared any record would carry a “distinctive mark” if it did not beat Babe Ruth's mark of 60 in 154 games. McGwire surpassed Maris on September 8 in is 145th game.
But now Mighty Mac has a footnote of his own. And for now and forever fans will wonder whether his total should have been one higher.
McGwire, who struck out four times Saturday night, gave St. Louis a 2-0 lead with a 423-foot shot in the first following a single by Fernando Tatis.
McGwire sent a drive into the left-field bleachers, setting off a scramble for the ball. Charles Dombrowski, 21, of Wisconsin Rapids, came up with it.
He said he'd give it back to McGwire: “It's the right thing to do.”
McGwire went 3-for-4 with a walk. Needing a triple to hit for the cycle -- his last triple came in 1988 -- he struck out in the seventh inning and walked in the ninth.
“You have a better chance of winning the lottery than for me to hit a triple,” McGwire said.
Karl (9-11) also gave up homers to Pat Kelly, Ron Gant and pitcher Manny Aybar (6-6) before leaving the game after three innings trailing 6-0.
McGwire's 451st career homer tied him with Carl Yastrzemski for 20th on the career list.
Notes: The Cardinals, who swept the three-game series with the Brewers, have six games to go, all at home, where McGwire has homered a record 33 times. ... St. Louis starter Kent Mercker, a left-hander, was scratched after taking the mound in the bottom of the first when a blister opened on the middle finger of his left hand. ... The three-game attendance of 155,157 broke the Brewers' record of 153,974 against Boston in 1978.
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