When Robinson Cano's second-inning home run just cleared the rightfield wall last night at Yankee Stadium, with a fan (legally) getting in the way of Rangers rightfielder Nelson Cruz, Jeff Maier knew what was coming next.
"Without a doubt," Maier told his brother and sister, with whom he watched the start of Game 4 at a LaGuardia Airport bar, "my name is going to appear at the bottom of the screen."
He called it - TBS brought up Maier's name - and many people called him. More than 14 years later, Maier still is synonymous with fan interference of home runs.
The difference is, Maier reached over the rightfield wall at old Yankee Stadium, in Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS against Baltimore, to try to catch Derek Jeter's shot; he wound up deflecting the ball. Umpire Rich Garcia erred in ruling Jeter's hit a home run.
Cano's shot? "I definitely think it would've held up [under replay review] as a home run," Maier told Newsday in a telephone interview. "Those guys had pretty good access. I had to go down stairs. That guy just had to get up out of his seat, and it was right there. I'm clearly more talented."
Maier, who was 12 when he became a permanent part of baseball lore, now works in Massachusetts as a middle-school math teacher and coach. Even though he is in Red Sox Nation, he still roots for the Yankees.