clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Today is the seventeenth anniversary of the worst blown call in the history of organized baseball

New, 20 comments
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The Padres have been victims of some egregious calls over the years -- the Dale Scott triple play and that game in 2007 that we don't talk about come to mind -- but none were as damaging as Richie Garcia calling an inning-ending third strike a ball, thus setting up a grand slam on a pitch that never should have been thrown. In a World Series game, at that.

The Padres were holding a 5-2 lead over the heavily favored Yankees heading into the bottom of the seventh inning in the first game of the 1998 World Series before the walls caved in. San Diego starter Kevin Brown retired the first batter before giving up a single and a walk, getting the hook in favor of Donne Wall. Chuck Knoblauch took Wall's first two pitches for balls before homering down the left field line to tie the game. Not ideal, but at least it was on the level.

Mark Langston came in after Wall gave up a single to Derek Jeter, and got Paul O'Neill to fly out weakly to Tony Gwynn for the second out. Jeter then took second on a pitch in the dirt, which led the Padres to put Bernie Williams on with some wide ones. Chili Davis then worked an inadvertent walk to load the bases and bring Tino Martinez to the plate.

Martinez then took the first two pitches for balls, then took a strike and fouled a ball off. Then he stood there like a statue as strike three passed right down the middle of the strike zone, but was given second life by the horrible home plate umpire mentioned above. Martinez made the most of his opportunity, blasting a free grand slam to give the Yankees four runs they never should have had a chance to get.

Some might say that it never would have came down to that call if any of the pitchers the Padres employed had done their jobs, but that's moot to me. The inning was over, the game was tied, the Padres scored the only following run... Both the game and momentum were stolen, and we know how the rest of the story turned out.