08/06/08 1:37 AM ET
Wall ball is deja vu to Red Sox
Bay denied homer, but not permanent spot on highlight reel
By Mark Dent / MLB.com
Finally, the replay aired on the CrownVision big screen. It seemed like they had to wait minutes, but the Kansas City bench finally got to see the ball roll on top of the fence before Ross Gload knocked it off into his glove.
"We were all standing around looking at each other and saying, 'Has anybody seen that play?'" first-base coach Rusty Kuntz said.
The answer to that was no. They saw videos of the ball getting stuck after it fell out of Johnny Damon's glove at Yankee Stadium on the Fourth of July, but they had never seen a ball roll on the outfield fence the way it did in Tuesday night's 8-2 Boston win. This one was unique.
Denny Matthews, who has broadcast Kansas City games for 40 years, thought so. Royals coaches and players thought so. Even the Red Sox thought so.
They've now been live and in person for two of the weirdest plays in recent history.
"That was one of the more interesting plays you'll ever see," Jason Bay said.
It happened in the seventh inning. Bay hit a deep fly ball to left center, and Mitch Maier quickly closed in on it. These are his favorite plays. He hasn't spent much time in the big leagues, but Maier's thought plenty about running toward the wall and making that impressive jump for a SportsCenter-worthy catch.
"Those are the plays you dream about," he said, "diving and taking away home runs."
Maier leaped into the wall, and the ball landed right in the palm of his glove. He was so close to making that special catch, but the ball bounced out. As far as he was concerned, Bay had just hit one over the fence.
But he hadn't.
As Maier lay on the grass, the ball rolled on top of the wall for a few seconds in a straight line, hardly moving one way or the other. Maier guessed the wall was a foot wide.
"Now is probably the time to get a lottery ticket," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "How many times do you see a ball do that on the wall?"
Gload continued sprinting from left field. He saw it, leaped for the top of the eight-foot fence and instinctively swatted the ball with his left hand into his glove. Bay's home run instead turned into a double.
"It was just a reaction play really," Gload said. "It has nothing to do with my skill level or anything."
"That was a pretty unique play," said Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek. "We've been a part of some weird plays out on the fence this year. The ball hadn't carried as well here as it normally does, especially to left field. He really tattooed the ball and it stayed in. Gload made a phenomenal play just pulling that ball back in and just keeping it from being a homer, because I think it was going to roll the other side."
This latest installment of the unlikely comes about a month after the Red Sox experienced it the first time. They were playing the Yankees on July 4 when Kevin Youkilis hit a deep fly to left field.
Damon followed it all the way to the fence and leaped to catch it. He had it in his glove before his body came crashing into the wall. The ball popped out and rested on top.
For two seconds, at least, it stayed up there, rocking slightly back and forth. The ball finally came down onto the field, and Damon, who had fallen to the ground, couldn't find it. A Yankees official behind the wall pointed where the ball was. Damon grabbed it, and threw it in. Youkilis had a triple.
That play made its rounds on TV for days. Odds are the same will happen for this one.
Bay, Gload, Maier and one level top of a fence made for an unforgettable series of events. Still, Maier would've rather never seen a ball roll on top of an outfield wall.
"I should have caught it," he said.
Mark Dent is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.