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Interference? Yankees Fan Says, No Way

Cruz, Washington argued that fan interfered

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    The New York Yankees fan who caught a disputed home run in Game 4 of the AL championship series says didn't touch Nelson Cruz. More at MLB.com and TexasRangers.com

    The New York Yankees fan who caught a disputed home run in Game 4 of the AL championship series says he did not touch Nelson Cruz's glove.

    With one out in the second inning, Robinson Cano hit a high fly that landed on the ledge atop the right-field wall and caromed into the seats. Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz jumped for the ball and came up short, then signaled that a fan in the front row wearing a Derek Jeter jersey had interfered with him.

    Right-field umpire Jim Reynolds ruled it a home run and stayed with the call after a brief argument by Rangers manager Ron Washington. It appeared that the fan touched Cruz's glove but never reached over the fence, which would make it fan interference.

    Yankees Fan: "I'm Certain I Did Not Touch His Glove"

    [DFW MLB] Yankees Fan: "I'm Certain I Did Not Touch His Glove"
    The New York Yankees fan who caught a disputed home run in Game 4 of the AL championship series says didn't touch Nelson Cruz. More at MLB.com and TexasRangers.com

    But 20-year-old Jared Macchirole said he never touched Cruz.

    "I did not touch his glove," he said. "People have been saying I touched his glove -- that, I did not, I can assure you. I'm certain I did not touch his glove."

    Macchirole said the ball came straight toward him and his brother.

    "And what I saw was, it hit the concrete and/or the yellow part of the fence, and once it came over, I knew it was a home run, so I didn't think there was any controversy in it," he said.

    He realized something might be up when he saw Washington come out and start arguing the call, he said.

    And fellow fans started telling him that he was going to get kicked out of the game for interference. Macchirole said he started to get nervous because he wanted to stay for the game. He even left his seat in fear of getting thrown out of the ballpark, he told reporters.

    But curiously, umpires never went to a video replay for review.

    During a television interview later in the game, Washington told TBS broadcasters that the umpires thought the fan hadn't "impeded" Cruz.

    Macchirole said he saw Cruz pointing at him but couldn't hear what the player was saying.

    "Well what happened was, after it was a home run, and they called it a home run, everyone was obviously rejoicing," he said. "Everyone was going crazy, so I didn't hear what he was saying, but he was talking to me."

    Cano's hit was reminiscent of Jeter's disputed homer at old Yankee Stadium in Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS against Baltimore, when 12-year-old fan Jeffrey Maier reached over the right-field fence with his mitt and reeled in a tying shot by Jeter in the eighth inning.

    Orioles right fielder Tony Tarasco, parked under the ball as it descended, argued vehemently, but umpire Rich Garcia called it a home run. The Yankees went on to win the game and the series.

    Of course, it was long before Major League Baseball adopted instant replay late in the 2008 season to review whether potential homers clear fences and whether they are fair or foul. Fan interference on such balls is subject to review -- but instant replay is only used for possible home runs.

    Following a rash of missed calls during the past three postseasons, many people have called for expanded replay in baseball. Commissioner Bud Selig has resisted and said there isn't much support among those he consults in the game. He said last month that umpires get about 98 percent of tough calls correct.

    Selig, however, said he would continue to explore the issue. He was in attendance Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium.

    Two batters after Cano's home run put New York up 1-0, Lance Berkman hit a long shot down the right-field line that Reynolds originally ruled a home run. Washington argued, and a group of umps went inside to look at replays, which clearly showed the ball hooked foul.

    Moments later, the umpires returned to the field and reversed the call. The Yankees never argued.

    It was the third video review in postseason history and second this year.

    The Associated Press reported that Macchirole told reporters he didn't have Cano's home run ball although reporters could see a ball stashed in his pocket. But Macchirole showed off the home run ball to NBCDFW's Matt Barrie.

    With two on in the fifth, Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton hit a foul popup to the left-field side that deflected off the hands of a fan in the front row -- perhaps preventing Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner from making a running catch.

    The crowd of 49,977 chanted an obscenity at the fan, who nearly became the Steve Bartman of the Bronx, before Hamilton flied out to end the inning. The fan declined comment.

    It was Bartman who famously deflected a foul popup away from Chicago Cubs left fielder Moises Alou in the 2003 NL championship series, preceding a Florida Marlins rally at Wrigley Field that cost the Cubs their first trip to the World Series since 1945.

    Alou, furious at the time, later acknowledged he probably couldn't have caught the ball anyway.

    NBCDFW's Matt Barrie, AP sports writer Mike Fitzpatrick and AP freelance writer Adriano Torres contributed to this report.