Mike Trout almost did it last year in Baltimore. And Darnell McDonald did it against the Blue Jays. Linus Van Pelt did it over and over again. So what would really happen if an outfielder caught a home run ball on the wrong side of the fence?
Last week, in the Suffolk County Class AA title (high school) game, senior left fielder Greg Coman made a spectacular catch at the wall. Well, over the wall.
Racing backwards on a line drive over his head, Coman reached the wall and leapt. With his glove extended well above his head, Coman was able to snag the apparent home run ball out of the air. But, though Coman did his job exceptionally well on the play, the waist-high plastic netting that made due for the wall did not. Coman's body was carried over the wall, with him landing hard on his back five feet beyond it. He somersaulted into a standing position and, with his glove raised triumphantly over his head, Coman ran back into the infield to end the inning.
Here's a nice photo collection of Coman making his spectacular catch (the video can be found here):
"Oh, I've got this one. Easy."
"Just like you practiced all those nights in the backyard."
"Um, the fence never did that before!"
"I caught it?! I caught it!!! Ok, act all cool..."
The umpires weren't so sure that Coman had managed to make the putout, however, and conferred. Their ultimate decision? That because Coman had not made the catch before going over the wall, he was "outside the playing area" and the ball was, therefore, a home run.
Coman's team would go on to win the championship game despite the most unlikely three-run homer you ever saw. Meanwhile, someone has to go back and re-calculate the win-loss record of Linus's (and Charlie Brown's) team.