Now you see it, now you don’t: Cliff Pennington’s ground rule double disappears (VIDEO)

Mark Townsend
August 12, 2012

On Tuesday night we had a case of a disappearing outfielder as Washington Nationals center fielder Roger Bernadina momentarily vanished behind a support beam at Minute Maid Park while making a spectacular, possibly play-of-the-year worthy, game-saving catch on Brett Wallace's long drive.

On Saturday night in Chicago, we had a more common case of a disappearing baseball. Only it really wasn't all that common, because it didn't happen on the north side at Wrigley Field where baseballs often get lost in the ivy. This actually happened at U.S. Cellular Field on the south side, and it was quite a confusing situation upon first, second, and even third look.

It happened in the seventh inning with the game tied at six. Oakland A's shortstop Cliff Pennington hit a ball to the gap with a runner on first and two outs. The ball touches down on the warning track and takes a violent bounce, and then completely disappears. The umpires on field immediately rule a ground rule double, forcing the runner Brandon Inge to stop at third. But the mystery of where exactly the ball ended up brought out A's manager Bob Melvin to plead his case for his runner being awarded home plate.

Here's a look at the vanishing baseball routine:

From the original angle it appears to disappear under the padding atop the outfield wall. However, on the slow motion replay it looks like it may have gone through an opening in the fence, as Steve Stone mentions on commentary. But since you never see it come through on the other side of the fence, that can't be what happened... can it?

Maybe we should send an umpire out there to investigate.

Second base umpire Todd Tichenor is taking charge.

Looks like Tichenor has a bead on this one.

Just as we initially suspected (and the security guard standing there knew the whole time). The ball wedged up under the padding on top of the wall after deflecting off the support beam padding.

Ground rule double confirmed. No run for the A's on the play or in the inning, but they would ultimately breakthrough in the eighth on a Jonny Gomes solo home run and Brandon Inge RBI single. And then they added one more in the ninth on a Gomes RBI single, which helped them secure a critical 9-7 road win.

Case closed.

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