Friday Flashback: Fan Interferences in Sports


When Umpire Joe West ruled Houston Astros’ potential home run from Jose Atuve to be out due to fan interference in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series the Astro fans were sure to join the list of infamous fans who have interfered with sporting events.

The Astros lost the game 8-6 and eventually eliminated by the Boston Red Sox last night 4-1 in Game 5.

Now you can add Troy Caldwell and Jared Tomanek to the infamous list of fans who have interfered in sports events.  Click here for the replay.

Perhaps the most incredible fan interference incident occurred on October 14, 2003 in the eighth inning of Game 6 of the National League Championship Series.  With the Chicago Cubs leading the Florida Marlins 3-0 and with a three games to two lead in the series, Moises Alou attempted to catch a foul ball off the bat of Marlins’ second baseman Luis Castillo.  Cubs’ fan Steve Bartman reached for the ball, deflected it, and disrupted what would have been a routine catch.  Had Alou made the catch, it would have been the second out of the inning and the Cubs would have been four outs away from winning their first National League title since 1945.  Instead, the Cubs gave up eight runs in the inning, lost the game 8-3 and were eliminated in the seventh game.  Bartman was the ire of Cubs fans after the incident.  In an effort to make things right, the Chicago Cubs gave Bartman a World Series ring when they finally won the title in 2016.  Click here to see it again.

On November 3, 1961 the Boston Patriots were leading the Dallas Texans in an American Football League game.  Dallas had time to run one more play.  Dallas quarterback Cotton Davidson threw into the end from the 1-yard line for wide receiver Chris Buford.  Fans were standing in the end zone when one fan wearing trench coat suddenly bolted out of the crowd and knocked the ball down then the fans swarmed the field after the play.  There was no replay in those days so the play stood. Click here to see the play.

Of course the most famous fan interference in college football had to be the Stanford Band in 1982 in a game between California University and Stanford.  With Stanford leading 20-19 and kicking off to California as the final play of the game, the return team was able to lateral the ball around and on their way down the field, the Stanford marching band had already started on the field thinking the game was over which forced the players to weave through them for the final 15 yards as California scored to win the game in one of the most bizarre endings in college football history involving fans.  Watch it again here.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) had a pretty ugly one in what has been called “The Malice at the Palace” during a game between the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers on November 19, 2004.  A fan threw a cup of Diet Coke on Ron Artest.  Artest was obviously not happy with this and all hell broke loose.  Fans were brawling with players, players were fighting players which later resulted in 10 assault and battery charges.  Nine players received suspensions from one game to 86 games.  See it here again.

Even professional tennis has had an incident with fan interference with the most serious incident on April 30, 1993 when Gunter Parche rushed onto the court and stabbed Monica Seles in her shoulder blade.  Seles recovered from the wounds but did not return to the court for nearly two years and was never able to return to the same level before the incident.  She captured one more Grand Slam title before retiring in 2003.

Although it wasn’t interference, it was an tense moment on April 8, 1974 when Hank Aaron hit his recording 715th home run at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.  Fans Britt Gaston and Cliff Courtenay were 17 at the time when they jumped onto the field along the first-base line and caught up with a startled Aaron as he rounded second base.  The fans gave him a quick pat before they left the field.  Courtenay was caught by officers before he got to the stands and Gaston made it 10 rows up before he was detained.  Neither was suspected of anything malicious and were quickly released.  Watch it again here.

Here are some other incidents of fan interference




Leave a Reply