September 6, 2020

Reggie Jackson 1978 World Series Runner’s Interference

How did the umpires miss this?

Reggie Jackson 1978 World Series Runner’s Interference


Dave Johnson


I know they didn’t really call that a balk back then, but now that’s an, obvious, blatant, knock you on your butt, “what the hell are you looking at if you don’t call that?!?!!?”, be prepared to be beaten about the head and ears by your crew chief or observer, BALK!

Chris Welsh

For what it is worth, the SS, Bill Russell, worked with MLB umpires as an observer in his post playing career. He once remarked to one of the umpires he worked with that he did not intentionally drop the Pinella line drive. He was trying to catch the short hop but the ball just carried farther than he judged.


What criteria are you using to judge SS didn’t intentionally drop the line drive? He’s a pro player, in the world series, and drops a ball right at his hip. Furthermore, watch the motion of his glove after “dropping” the ball. He ushers the ball toward his feet.

You state that Jackson is guilty of intentional interference, but not how you came to that conclusion. He seemed to make no relevant motion after the ball was released, and indeed conducted himself in a manner consistent with a runner unsure whether the line drive was caught (same as R2). What would he have to do to avoid intentional interference in your judgment? Attempt to avoid the throw?


The intentional drop could go either way. In today’s baseball, it would probably be called.

But Reggie’s interference is blatant. Any more pronounced and it would be flagrant. In the video, 2B umpire Joe Brinkman’s angle is seen well starting at about 1:36 and clearly shows Reggie backing his big backside into the throw AFTER the throw is released. He does his best “Wha’? Who, me?” dance afterwards but it’s no sale. Reggie was too smart a ball player and too shrewd to have not known exactly what he was doing.


I have been waiting 25 years to comment on this play, ever since the first time I saw the Joe Brinkman Rhubarb tape that featured this play as the finale. I agree with everything on this video (although it wouldn’t take much to convince me the line drive was dropped intentionally). The issue is the call on Reggie. Part of the problem was the umpiring mechanics of the day. Reggie’s was closer to 1B than 2B so everyone (including Tommy Lasorda and Joe Brinkman) looked to Frank Pulli to make the call. But Pulli had a terrible angle to see Reggie’s furtive lean into the throw while Brinkman had a perfect angle – and, as the video shows, Brinkman was looking right at it. Pulli and Lasorda had a history so once Tommy came on the field, it was all about the Frank & Tommy show. The umpires should have stopped Tommy at the foul line, huddled amongst themselves, and Brinkman should have convinced Pulli there was interference. Then it would have been Bob Lemon’s turn to lose his mind.

Have a question or comment for one of our experts?

Don't strike out!

Become a part of the largest baseball rules community in the world!

Get free access to baseball forums, rules analysis and exclusive email content from current and former Major League Baseball players and umpires.