Worst Call Ever …?

How often during a sporting event, do you hear that?  I was having a beer with a friend last week at the Lagerhaus Brewery in Palm Harbor when our stammtisch discussion swung toward the worst calls in sports.

The owner and brew master (Franz) stocks a large assortment of German, Austrian, Belgian, and craft beers.  Franz introduces guest beers each week.  This week’s were from Czechoslovakia.  After enjoying a Bohemian Dunkel and midway through a Staropramen, we had concluded our discussion.  We decided that if the following were not the worst sports calls ever, they were at the very least among the worst calls we could remember.

  • Football.  The Tuck Rule from the 2001 AFC divisional playoff game on January 19, 2002.  You all know the circumstances.  Raiders lead 13-10 with about two minutes left in the game.  The Patriots’ Tom Brady is bringing the ball forward when he is hit and fumbles.  The referee reviews the play and determines that even though Brady has his non-throwing hand on the ball, the forward movement constitutes a forward pass.  The Patriots retain possession, tie the game, win in overtime, win the AFC Championship game over the Steelers, and win Super Bowl 36 over the Rams.  Brady goes on to meet and marry a model and quarterback the Patriots dynasty over the next decade plus.  The Tuck Rule was repealed in March of 2013.
  • Hockey.  Leon Stickel.  ‘Nuff said?  If you are a Flyers fan, you remember or heard about the non-call in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Flyers and Islanders on May 24, 1980.  Butch Goring accepted an off sides pass and fed Brian Sutter for a go-ahead, 2-1 goal.  That the goal occurred late in the first period is often forgotten.  Most fans attribute Stickels’ no call to Bob Nystrom’s overtime goal.
  • Basketball.  How about any Michael Jordan travel.  No?  Okay, the 1972 Olympic Gold medal game between the USA and USSR on September 10, 1972.  A probably concussed Doug Collins sank 2 free throws with 3 seconds remaining to give the USA a 50-49 lead.  The in bounds pass was deflected and time ran out.  Gold medal USA.  Wait.  The USSR was given a new 3 seconds and missed a desperation shot.  Gold medal USA.  Wait, again.  The head of FIBA, Renato William Jones, came out of the stands to award the Soviets another 3 seconds and this time they converted a full court, Chris Lattner-like pass and lay up to win the game, 51-50.  Cheaters!  The USA players refused to accept their silver medals. The loss ended American domination of the sport.  The USA carried a 63-0 record into the Gold Medal Game.  Their silver medals remain unclaimed in storage in Switzerland.
  • Baseball.  There are a lot of bad calls in baseball even with instant replay.  One of the worst I remember is the non-interference call on Derek Jeter’s fly ball to the right field wall in Game One of the ALCS on October 9, 1996.  A young fan reached ovr the wall and deflected the ball into the stands.  The blind umpire, standing at the wall ruled home run and the game was tied.  The kid didn’t even hold on to the ball. However, the worst call (in my opinion) was by Don Denkinger in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series.  In a play that was eerily similar to the blown call in Game 3 of the 1977 NLCS between the Phillies-Dodgers (Black Friday), Denkinger blew an out call at first base in the ninth inning that helped the Royals come back against the Cardinals. The Royals trailed in the game 1-0 and in the series 3 games to 2.  The blown call allowed the leadoff batter to reach base.

Before putting this together, I checked online to verify some of the facts.  It’s amazing how the stories’ facts can differ from one article to another.

Agree?  Disagree?  Have a worse call?  Share below.  Enjoy the Super Bowl if you follow football.  I don’t anymore.  I’m just a casual viewer.  We had a lot of blacked out games when we moved down here.  A steady diet of the Buccaneers soured me on the sport, so I lost interest.  If I were a betting man though, Carolina.  Top 30 poll continues next week.

17 thoughts on “Worst Call Ever …?

  1. Worst call ever, maybe not but this one is close. June 2, 2010, Armando Galarraga pitching to the 27th man enroute to a perfect game. Jason Donald is called safe at first to break it up. Let’s go to the video tape… out by A LOT! A perfect game gets mention in the Hall of Fame and can never be taken away. A one hitter, is just a nice to have. Also nice that a former Phuture Phillie can be involved.

    1. And Umpire Joyce realized he blew the call, felt bad for Gallarraga, and apologized afterwards. That is saying something.

      1. I felt for Joyce. He immediately appreciated the gravity of the situation and was clearly heart-broken. Most impressive was Galarraga’s handling of the situation.

        Its tough to be an umpire though. The human element will always expose us to the risk of making a mistake. It happens to all of us. I can’t imagine how it must feel to do it in front of millions of spectators with 40 thousand or so of them booing at you.

      2. Joyce’s reaction to the mistake and Galarraga’s immediate and heart-felt forgiveness was one the high points of human interaction in sports and, fittingly, made the failed no hitter (and the men associated with it) much more famous than it would have been had Joyce gotten the call right in the first place.

  2. good list- obviously these are all memorable due to the importance of the situations.

    i was a fan of those Royals teams so was glad for the result of the call, but think that one has to take the cake over that one because it was so obviously wrong. of course that led to the Cardinals meltdown in Game 7 with John Tudor and the late Joaquin Andujar.

    Love that the 72 Olympic Team still has never accepted their silver medals.

  3. This is no where near the worst call ever but it was still pretty blatantly bad. Not as much in that the umps missed one call on the play but two.

    The setting is the 2009 game three of the first round of the playoffs between the Phils and Rockiesat Coors field and bitter cold.

    Chase Utley at bat (I think it was the 4th inning). Victorino on first (he walked). Nobody out with Jason Hammels pitching. Utley pounds a ball into the dirt of the batters box it bounces off his leg and then his chest, but being the great artist he is he does not flinch coming out of the box as if he was going for an infield hit. He runs down the inside of the baseline so when Hammels fields the ball there he has to throw over the speeding Utley to Todd Helton. Helton amazingly holds the bag for a split second as he is leaping for the high throw and getting out of Utley’s way towards the foul side of the bag. Safe!!!!!!

    1st Utley should have been brought back for a foul ball off his body. The call could have also been blown and he called out if the ump saw it happening out of the batters box. Second he should have been called out at first.

    Of course if they had instant reply he would have just been brought back with a foul.

    However, if I was a Rockies fan I would have put that down as a really bad call, maybe the worst in their history. Utley got an infield single out of it and the Phillies went on to score three runs in the inning and win a back breaking game (6-5) to take a 2 to 1, 5 game series lead. Then Cliff Lee out dualed Hiraldo to win the series. Another Great Phillies moment!

    Chase Utley was an amazing player. I mean he still hustles and does the little things well ( all though Mets and a lot of teams fans hate him) even if he has lost a lot with his bat and knees. I mean most guys would have hesitated when being hit by the ball in the batters box.

    That lineup will go down as maybe the best Phillies lineup of all time. Rollins, Victorino, Utley, Howard, Werth, Ibanez, Feliz, and Chooch!!!!!!!!

    1. That lineup will go down as maybe the best Phillies lineup of all time. Rollins, Victorino, Utley, Howard, Werth, Ibanez, Feliz, and Chooch!!!!!!!!…
      ….these guys may take exception to that…..Schmidt, Rose, Bowa, Trillo, Luzinski, Maddox, McBride, Boone

      1. REMHOWARD2011:
        Above Positional Players: (Pat Burrell not Raul Ibanez in 2008)
        Career-Team2008WAR—257 (still in progress)

        1. Ya that lineup was awesome as well, but in watching both I enjoyed the 2009 Phils better from sheer power, speed on the bases and being more home grown.

          Catcher – Boone and Chooch, Chooch just had a little something extra on Booney in my opinion. I guess I followed Chooch through the minors and really did not do that with Boone. Chooch made a lot of clutch plays and he was better on the base paths than Booney.

          1st – I like Howard better because he was home grown and gave the Phils more great years. Yes the couple years of Rose were great but he is more of a Red than a Philly.

          2nd – Utley vs Trillo, I mean really common. Again Utley was home grown with way more offensive production.

          SS – While Bowa and Rollins were home grown, Jimmy has it all over Bowa.

          3rd – Yes Schmitty has it all over Felix. This is the only comparison in mind where the 1980 team was better than the 2009.

          OF – Luzinski vs Ibanez – Yes the Bull was better as a home grown product but Ibanez had it all over him in 2009 vs 1980 Luzinski. The bull had power and that was it.

          CF – I loved Maddox, but I think Victorino brought more offensively at the top of the lineup.

          OF – Werth had it over Mcbride offensively and I think even defensively. I would have loved to see those two in a race around the base paths..

          Again I know your into stats Rom, but just talking enjoyment to watch. Its just my opinion its not impirical.

        1. this would be a great discussion topic – best Phils line up in modern era…for me the 93 team was the best, wo question1

  4. Your right Jim that 72 Olympics basketball championship was the most blatantly bad, fixed, rigged, crooked bunch of calls I ever saw end a game. I mean the first time they gave them a second shot it was like OK that was crooked, but when the did it a third time I was loosing it. I never saw a more crooked set of circumstances before or since.

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