When it comes to fans having a chance to touch the game ball, baseball is a sport like none other. Other than perhaps arena football, fan interference is a purely baseball phenomenon.
With the average MLB contest consuming well over 100 baseballs, chances are a good number of them will be hit into or near the stands and into the gloves—or arms, hands, backs and hats—of eager fans looking for a cheap souvenir.
For whatever reason, when a baseball is hit within 50 feet of a fan, the spectator feels inclined to retrieve it. This is especially true when it comes to balls bounding along the fence-line beyond the dugouts and fly balls hit basically anywhere.
Spectator (fan) interference is defined by Rule 2.00 INTERFERENCE (d) of the MLB Rules Book.
Spectator interference occurs when a spectator reaches out of the stands, or goes on the playing field, and (1) touches a live ball or (2) touches a player and hinders an attempt to make a play on a live ball.
On any interference, the ball is dead and the umpire may elect to impose whatever penalties he believes will best nullify the act of interference (Rule 3.16). This might include rewarding bases to the batter or runner, sending a runner back to a base and/or declaring the batter out in cases where spectator interference clearly prevents a fielder from catching a fly ball.
The 2011 season had its fair share of fan interference, including a play in which Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was ejected for arguing where umpire Gary Darling chose to place a runner following interference and the first time instant replay review was used to rule spectator interference when the call on the field was not a home run.
Controversial? You bet. Funny? Occasionally.
Will either of these plays crack the top 10 fan interference vids?
Read on to find out. You'll notice plays six through 10 fall into the humorous category, while plays one through five are all controversial in their own right.