Found October 07, 2012 on Bronx Pinstripes:

The ball jumped off Derek Jeter’s bat and headed out to right field. Down by one run in the eighth inning of Game One of the 1996 ALCS to the Baltimore Orioles, the Yankees needed runs, and fast. As the ball traveled to the outfield, then 12-year-old Jeffrey Maier left his seat in the front row, and went down the few steps to the walkway in front of the fence.

“I really wasn’t thinking about much,” Maier, now 28 recalls. “[I thought] anything any ordinary 12 year old, and for that matter any ordinary fan thinks when they see a ball at a game – instinctively watched it, and tried to catch it and thinking it was a home run all along.” Maier reached out over the fence, just as the ball was coming down. At the same time, rightfielder Tony Tarasco was settled underneath it at the warning track, his glove outstretched, sure he was going to catch it.

He didn’t.

The ball deflected off Maier’s glove and landed somewhere near him in the stands. The play was ruled a home run by umpire Richie Garcia as Jeter circled the bases, giving the Yankees the lead in a game and series they eventually won. “I brought the ball over the fence, It hit the heel of my glove, then went to the bottom of the scrum,” said Maier. He didn’t come away with the ball, but instead came away with a few black and blues on his arms as everyone fought for the treasured souvenir. Maier was lifted onto the shoulders of another fan, and the stadium went into a frenzy. “ I have no idea who the gentlemen was that put me on his shoulders. The place got pretty loud. it was a pretty overwhelming experience,” Maier said.

Shortly after the “home run”, Maier was taken into a hallway where members of the media assembled to find out who this mystery kid was. He was with family friends, who had given him the ticket because another friend couldn’t make it due to work commitments. Game One was rescheduled due inclement weather, so without the postponement, Maier might not have been at the game.

After being swarmed by the media, Maier and the group he was with decided it was best to go home and not take in the rest of the game. This was only the beginning for the young boy, as he was all of a sudden thrust into the national spotlight. He entered Yankee Stadium that day as an ordinary 12-year-old kid, and left as a key figure in Yankee and baseball history.

The next day, Maier attended Game Two courtesy of the Daily News. Earlier in the day, he did the weather for ABC’s “Good Morning America” and was a guest on “Regis and Kathy Lee.” He was even offered to appear on “The David Letterman Show,” but didn’t attend because he was at Game Two.

“One day you’re the average kid who loves sports and does relatively well in school, the next day you’re doing the weather on GMA, and on the front page of most newspapers in the country,” he said. “It definitely changes things.” However, the play wasn’t received well by others in the days and weeks to come. “We had to have our mail screened at one point at the police station. You had reporters and camera crews following you home from school,” said Maier. “I had to hide in the backseat of my moms car; we had to make sure people didn’t go on the property. For a couple of days it was pretty wild.”

He even received death threats from around the country from disgruntled fans. As a 12-year old, he was forced to deal with things at an early age. “Receiving negative letters and having people write negative things about you in the media was a very difficult thing to deal with,” Maier said. “No one likes to know that people don’t like them, especially when they haven’t had the opportunity to be judged as a person.”

Maier looks back at the event and what transpired after as something that forced him to grow up and stay grounded. He was offered to be in multiple commercials and to star in promotional projects, but he turned all of them down, something he says to this day was the best decision he ever made. “I was fortunate to have a very grounded set of parents to make sure I stayed grounded too. So I went back to going to school and playing sports.”

Maier went on with his life, hanging out with friends and family to keep his mind off of the media circus he stumbled into.  ”It was hard to understand. But I had a good support system so I could continue with my life,” he said. Things eventually died down for him during everyday life, but he still carries the familiar name with him. “ People would always remember me,” he said. “Baseball fans are pretty bright.”

In February of 1997, he had the opportunity to meet Jeter at an autograph signing in New Jersey. For Maier, the experience was something he’ll never forget. “I was there with my father and Derek was a really nice guy, really complimentary of me for how I handled the whole process and wished me well with everything,” he said. Jeter addressed his father as “sir” and signed a ball for Jeffrey. The ball read “To Jeff, thanks a lot. – Derek Jeter.”

Maier also had the chance to meet Tarasco in 2002 when he was a guest speaker at a baseball camp Maier was working at. “We had the opportunity to spend some time with one another, we engaged in some conversation,” Maier said. At the time, Maier was getting ready to attend college at Wesleyan University and play baseball. Tarasco was understanding about what happened that night in the Bronx. “He was wishing me well, and said if he was a kid he would’ve done the same thing. He was a standup guy.”

Maier went on to become the all-time hits leader at Wesleyan. He is now married (to a Red Sox fan) with two sons, one of which is already throwing a wiffleball and hitting off of a tee at 20 months old. He lives in “Red Sox Nation,” and preferred to keep his whereabouts private – “there are some crazy people out there,” he said.

He took a trip down to Camden Yards several years ago to watch the O’s take on the Sox, and said it was a pleasant experience, especially since he made it out of there unharmed. Every now and then, someone will recognize his name and poke and prod his story. As time goes by, Maier says he doesn’t mind it, and often enjoys it. “It’s not something I try to flaunt. You kind of awkwardly smile,” Maier said. “I enjoy the excitement people get about it now.”

He summed up the whole event very innocently, very simple. “At the core of it, its a story about a kid who loves baseball, who brought his glove to the game like most kids do,” Maier said. Even though the experience was a lot to handle as a  young boy, he looks back on how it has impacted him with no regrets whatsoever. He admits he’s kept a chest full of articles and letters that were sent to him back then, as a reminder of the unique experience he went through. The event will always be a part of him, no matter what.

“I don’t have regrets, you live life day by day. I think 99.9 percent of people would have done the same thing, reacting to the ball,” said Maier. “It’s a unique story. It’s something you kind of embrace. I’ve always been a Yankee fan, I’ve always understood the history of the Yankees, but also the history of baseball.”

Maier is forever etched into that history, and now the memories of that October night come flooding back since the Orioles are facing the Yankees for the first time since that series. The anniversary of the controversial play is October 9, one day before Game Three is to be played at Yankee Stadium. Maier is excited for this years playoffs, and is happy a certain team is back to prominence. “I’m really glad the Orioles are back in it. I think they’re a great team,” he said.

“I’ll stay away from Camden Yards and Yankee Stadium and let the 18 guys on the field fight it out and figure out the outcome.”


Make sure to check out our Series Preview between the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees.


Cops asked Yankees for autographs

Two Maryland state troopers reportedly asked Yankees stars Derek Jeter and Nick Swisher for their autographs during Sunday's playoff game in Baltimore.

Maryland State Troopers Ask Yankees For Autographs During Game

During last night's Baltimore Orioles-New York Yankees ALDS game, two Maryland State Troopers assigned to the Yankees dugout asked players for autographs. The troopers entered the Yankee dugout in the ninth inning of the Yankees win and asked Nick Swisher and Derek Jeter for autographs. A witness to the event said, "Swish was livid", referring to Nick Swisher. Derek...

ALDS Game 1: Yankees 7, Orioles 2

A 2:26 rain delay and a close game that was in the hands of a great Orioles bullpen didn't leave me much to be optimistic about last night. Couple all of that with the fact that my eyelids were heavy, and you get this blogger going to sleep in the 7th inning. When I woke up this morning I saw that everything that had to happen for the Yankees to win last night happened:* CC Sabathia...

Yankees Injury News: Brett Gardner, Jayson Nix

While the New York Yankees aren’t going to announce their roster for the American League Division Series against the Baltimore Orioles until a little later this morning, it’s been reported that utility player Jayson Nix and outfielder Brett Gardner are expected to make the cut. Both players have dealt with injuries recently, but they’ve battled back to the point where...

ALDS Game 2 Lineups

YANKEES (1-0) Derek Jeter, SS Ichiro Suzuki, LF Alex Rodriguez, 3B Robinson Cano, 2B Nick Swisher, RF Mark Teixeira, 1B Russell Martin, C Curtis Granderson, CF Eduardo Nunez, DH LHP Andy Pettitte ORIOLES (0-1) Nate McLouth, LF JJ Hardy, SS Chris Davis, RF Adam Jones, CF Matt Wieters, C Mark Reynolds, 1B Jim Thome, DH Manny Machado, 3B Robert Andino, 2B LHP Wei-Yin Chen

ALDS Game 1 Lineups

YANKEES Derek Jeter SS Ichiro Suzuki LF Alex Rodriguez 3B Robinson Cano 2B Nick Swisher RF Mark Teixeira 1B Curtis Granderson CF Russell Martin C Raul Ibanez DH LHP CC Sabathia ORIOLES Nate McLouth LF J.J. Hardy SS Adam Jones CF Matt Wieters C Mark Reynolds 1B Chris Davis DH Lew Ford RF Manny Machado 3B Robert Andino 2B RHP Jason Hammel

Yankees Injury News: Brett Gardner Could Make Playoff Roster

As the New York Yankees prepare for their American League Division Series opener Sunday, they will soon be announcing their playoff roster. Outfielder Brett Gardner, who missed most of the season due to an elbow injury, put himself squarely in the mix for one of those spots, reports Brendan Prunty of The Star-Ledger: With Gardner finally getting to do more than pinch-run and...

CC Sabathia Tracked Fantasy Football Team During Rain Delay, Started Baltimore Quarterback Joe Flacco

Rain delays are usually a deterrent for starting pitchers -- especially in the playoffs. Not for Yankees starter CC Sabathia. During the two-hour, 26-minute rain delay before Sunday's series opener against the Orioles, Sabathia passed the time by watching the Broncos-Patriots game while monitoring his fantasy league. "Told you I'd be watching football. Raiders are off...

Forget the first six innings. When we play Baltimore tonight, it's all about the bullpens.

The first six innings tonight will be like the first weeks of a presidential campaign: Unless you’re caught red-handed, and blow the whole thing, it won’t matter. Come the seventh, everything will get crazy anyway. There are no more undecideds. We know them. They know us. This will be the 19thtime New York and Baltimore have played.  We are tied, 9-9. They scored two more...

Video: Ichiro uses creatives moves at home plate to score Yankees’ first run of the game


AL Division Series Game One: Yankees 7, Orioles 2

It was a hard-fought battle for eight innings...until Jim Johnson opened the floodgates in the ninth, leading to a 7-2 win for the Yankees over the Orioles in game one of their ALDS, giving the Yankees a 1-0 series lead. CC Sabathia started for the Yankees, and quite frankly, he was awesome. Sabathia threw 120 pitches for the Yankees, with 80 strikes in those 120, completing 8...

Yankees, Orioles renew rivalry

Orioles rookie third baseman Manny Machado was a 4-year-old when Baltimore and the New York Yankees last met in the postseason. In case the kid needs a quick history lesson, left-hander David Wells won a game for Baltimore, Cecil Fielder and Darryl Strawberry homered for the Yankees, and a youngster named Jeffrey Maier stuck his glove in the middle of the whole thing. The 1996...

Yankees beat Orioles 7-2 in game one of the ALDS

The New York Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles 7-2, in game one of the ALDS tonight at Camdem Yards from Baltimore, MD. Yankees lead series over Orioles 1-0 in the ALDS. W - CC Sabathia (1-0), L - Jim Johnson (0-1). Game Stats: CC Sabathia pitched a dominant game by going 8.2 innings while allowing 8 hits, gave up 2 runs, walked 1 and struck out 7 batters. David Robertson...

Yankees 7, Orioles 2

BALTIMORE -- Russell Martin hit a tiebreaking homer in the ninth inning to start a five-run rally that gave the New York Yankees a 7-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles in Game 1 of an American League Division Series on Sunday night. Game 2 of the best-of-five series will be played Monday night in Camden Yards. The series then will shift to New York for Game 3 on Wednesday. If...
MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.