Seventeen years ago, fans at Dodger Stadium threw a barrage of souvenir baseballs and other items onto the field, prompting umpires to forfeit the game to the Cardinals.
When fans at Turner Field in Atlanta hurled bottles, cans and debris in protest of an umpire’s infield fly rule call during the Cardinals-Braves 2012 National League wild-card playoff game Oct. 5, it reminded some St. Louis fans of the incident at Dodger Stadium.
On Aug. 10, 1995, a crowd of 53,361 packed Dodger Stadium for a Ball Night promotion and to see popular rookie starting pitcher Hideo Nomo face the Cardinals.
Tension began to build in the eighth inning. With the Cardinals ahead 2-1, the Dodgers had two on with two out and first baseman Eric Karros at the plate. Karros was called out on strikes. When he argued the call, he was ejected by home plate umpire Jim Quick. Fans began throwing baseballs onto the field in protest.
After the Cardinals were retired in their half of the ninth, right fielder Raul Mondesi led off the bottom of the inning. With a count of 3-and-0, Mondesi took a pitch from closer Tom Henke that Mondesi thought was ball four. As Mondesi headed toward first base, Quick ruled the pitch a strike.
Mondesi argued and was ejected. Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda rushed onto the field and jawed with Quick. Lasorda was ejected, too.
With that, a hailstorm of baseballs was unleashed from the stands. Quick stopped play and a forfeit was declared, giving the victory to the Cardinals. Boxscore
(It was the first forfeit in the National League in 41 years. That game involved the Cardinals, too. On July 18, 1954, umpires forfeited to the Phillies the second game of a doubleheader at St. Louis because they believed Cardinals manager Eddie Stanky intentionally was using stall tactics.)
First-base umpire Bob Davidson called the decision to forfeit the Dodger Stadium game to the Cardinals “100 percent correct” and criticized Lasorda.
“This whole thing was Tom Lasorda’s fault,” Davidson said to the Associated Press. “He instigated the crowd, waving his arms. He has himself to blame, absolutely. He knows he’s to blame.”
Said Lasorda: “How did I instigate it? I was talking to Jim Quick. All I was asking was why he threw my players out. We didn’t throw the balls.”
Cardinals players felt they were in danger. Objects other than baseballs were thrown at them.
“I wasn’t too worried until a bottle of Southern Comfort flew out of the stands and hit me,” Cardinals right fielder John Mabry said to columnist Bob Nightengale of The Sporting News. “I got hit by a rum bottle, too.”
Said St. Louis center fielder Brian Jordan to the Associated Press: “I’m not going to stand out there and get busted in the head with a ball. The umpires made a good decision.”
Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson, then a Cardinals coach, said to Nightengale, “Dodger fans used to be among the best in baseball. I’m afraid you can’t say that anymore.”
Previously: 1980s macho match: Whitey Herzog vs. Roger Craig