Atlanta Braves: The Last Time MLB Upheld a Protest

Paul SwaneySenior Analyst IOctober 5, 2012

Fredi Gonzalez argues the infield fly rule call
Fredi Gonzalez argues the infield fly rule callScott Cunningham/Getty Images

The first ever Wild Card elimination game between the St Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves at Turner Field became a memorable contest when Left Field Umpire Sam Holbrook made a very late and questionable infield fly rule call. The result of the play was the second out of the inning, and runners on second and third. If no call had been made, the bases would have been loaded with only one out.

An enraged Braves crowd began to throw bottle and debris on the field, giving teams everywhere a new reason to examine their policies on how food and beverages are sold at their venues.

Braves Manager Fredi González argued the crowd and eventually indicated to the umpires that the Braves would play the rest of the game under protest.

The ability to protest a game is a unique phenomenon of baseball, but it is very rare for a protest to be upheld by Major League Baseball. In this case, if the protest was upheld, the game would have to be resumed with one out in the bottom of the 8th with the bases loaded for the Braves.

The last time that a protest was upheld was in 1986, when the Pittsburgh Pirates protested that umpires called a game due to rain too soon. The league agreed and the game was resumed, although the Pirates eventually lost the game to—coincidentally—the St Louis Cardinals.

Perhaps the most notable protested game to be upheld was the famous "Pine Tar Incident" in 1983, when George Brett's bat was deemed to have pine tar too far up the handle, and Brett had a home run taken off the board and given an out instead. The iconic image of Brett running from the dugout and being ejected is etched in the mind's of baseball fans everywhere.

The League eventually agreed that Brett did not violate the spirit of the rule, and the game was resumed with two outs in the top of the ninth, with the Royals leading 5-4. Yankees Manager Billy Martin staged his own protest moving Don Mattingly to second base and Ron Guidry to center field to demonstrate his disapproval of the ruling.

Will tonight's protest by the Atlanta Braves be upheld?

Probably not, but it sure is an interesting way to begin the 2012 MLB Playoffs.

Paul Swaney is the founder of Stadium Journey, a sports travel site committed to giving fans all of the information they need to make the most out of their next live sports experience. Follow Stadium Journey on Facebook and Twitter.