His name will not go down in baseball history like Jeffrey Maier or infamy like Steve Bartman. He might not officially be revealed at all. But this Citi Field bat boy will have imparted a valuable lesson to those in his position wherever the game is played: Make sure to run in the opposite direction from a ball in play!
The visiting team’s bat boy at Citi Field is well known to the Mets players and the organization — he is under their jurisdiction — but on Thursday, clad in a Brewers uniform with BB on the back of his jersey, he became an extension of the opponent in the fourth inning. The bat boy collided with Mets third baseman Wilmer Flores as he attempted to catch a foul pop-up hit by Eric Sogard near the Brewers’ dugout along the third-base line. It ultimately didn’t cost the Mets a run, but the eventual ruling infuriated Terry Collins and led to his ejection.
Flores was camped under the ball when the bat boy, who was seated on a small stool several feet from the entrance of the dugout, tried to get out of the way but instead ran into Flores. The ball fell to the ground and the play originally was ruled an out because of interference. But the umpires huddled and agreed it was unintentional interference, meaning Sogard’s at-bat would be extended. Collins flipped out and was tossed out. Sogard hit into an inning-ending double play, so the Mets were not hurt by the bat boy’s mistake.
The umpires cited Rule 3.15, which, in part, states interference as being applicable only if the contact is intentional.
“Obviously, it’s a tough play,’’ Sogard said. “I’ve never seen it before. Worked out originally, then double-play ball. I think if we would have scored then, it would have been tougher. He was able to get out of it.’’
Collins said, “The bat boy/ball boy is allowed on the field. If he is trying to get out of the way, contact is justified . . . My issue was, it’s a routine catch. It would be one thing if it’s a difficult play. That was my argument. You might have three or four guys next [time] running in all different directions.”
Flores said, “All I can say, I had the ball. I don’t know what happens after that. I had the ball. I guess he didn’t do it intentionally. That wasn’t his intention. You can’t get mad at him. He was trying to get out of the way but he went the wrong way.’’
Flores, who homered in the eighth inning for the Mets’ only run in a 2-1 loss to the Brewers, added that he knows the young man and the two will talk and even share a laugh over the incident.
Visiting clubhouse manager Tony Carullo, a Mets employee, said the young bat boy “felt embarrassed” by what happened and Carullo said he would not make him available for comment. The Mets did not release his name.
“It was one of those unfortunate baseball plays, I guess you could say,’’ Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler said. “I asked the umpire what the ruling was. He said the bat boy is part of the field. If he comes in the way, there’s nothing you can do about it.”
With Mark Herrmann