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Houston fan involved in controversial interference play says ump blew the call

Posted: 10:57 AM, Oct 18, 2018
Updated: 2018-10-18 11:57:58-04

Troy Caldwell initially didn’t realize his five minutes of fame might extend into something much more.

The Houston fan who was involved in Jose Altuve’s controversial home run-turned-into-an-out could be remembered for much more. Particularly if the Astros end up losing to the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series.

Caldwell told the Houston Chronicle he thought he was merely involved in a funny moment in the first inning of the Astros’ 8-6 loss to Boston. But then, his phone started blowing up with social media responses from his friends sending him pictures and videos of him almost catching Altuve’s deep fly.

As the debate on the play dragged on for several minutes, Caldwell had a sinking feeling. It got worse when he saw umpiring crew chief Joe West working the right-field line. And it bottomed out when West ruled fan interference and called Altuve out.

The review upheld West’s original call that Caldwell interfered with Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts. A potential game-tying home run was snatched away. The Red Sox got out of the inning without further damage and eventually claimed the game to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Back in Section 152 of Minute Maid Park, Caldwell stayed for the rest of the game.

“I’m going to need security to escort me out of here if the Astros don’t come back to win this,” said Caldwell, a lifetime Astros fan who grew up in Houston but currently lives in Atlanta and flew to town just for this game.

West said neither the ball nor Betts’ glove had crossed the railing when the interference took place.

“Here’s the whole play,” West told reporters after the game. “They hit the ball to right field, he (Betts) jumped up to try to make a catch, a fan interfered with him over the playing field. That is why I called spectator interference.”

It was the wrong call — at least according to Caldwell.

“I didn’t reach over the wall; I was on this side of the line,” Caldwell said. “I don’t understand what happened. I know the rules, and I didn’t reach over the line.”

Rule 3.16 of the official baseball rules states that: “No interference shall be allowed when a fielder reaches over a fence” unless “it is clearly intentional.”

West says that rule isn’t applicable, because he says Betts didn’t reach into the stands.

“I think you know what I think of Joe West right about now,” Caldwell told the Chronicle.

And unlike the perpetrator of the infamous Bartman incident during a 2003 Chicago Cubs playoff game, Caldwell remained in his seat.

Fans around him were supporting him, even as the Astros eventually lost the game.

He received support from other Astros fans from outside the stadium. Pinkerton’s Barbecue sent out a tweet during the game urging fans around Caldwell to buy him a beer and offered him free barbecue.

“I promise you I didn’t do anything wrong,” Caldwell said.