HOUSTON – Apparently there’s something about 12-year-olds reaching over the outfield fence during New York Yankees games in the American League Championship Series. Twenty-one years after Jeffrey Maier became a household name for stealing a Derek Jeter home run over the fence at Yankee Stadium, another precocious pre-teen almost did the same at Minute Maid Park – though this time, it wasn’t nearly as blatant and didn’t benefit the Yankees.
Carson Riley, a seventh grader from Liberty Hill, Texas, slung his Wilson A2000 infield’s glove slightly over the yellow line that marks the home run boundary on the right-field fence as a shot from Astros shortstop Carlos Correa soared toward him during Game 2 of the ALCS on Saturday. With Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge about a step behind the ball, it caromed off the top lip of Riley’s glove and into the stands for a home run.
“I was that close,” said Riley, who plays second base when he’s not trying to catch balls from major leaguers that leave the bat at 98 mph.
Immediately umpires called for a replay review to determine whether Riley had committed the same sin as Maier: reach into the field and turn an in-play ball into a home run. The replay was fairly clear: Even if Riley hadn’t reached out, Correa’s hit would have landed in the stands. The home run counted, gave Houston a 1-0 lead and wound up in Riley’s glove eventually as a memento to treasure. Correa was the hero of Saturday’s game as the shortstop hit a walk-off double to give the Astros a 2-1 win and 2-0 series lead in the ALCS.
After skipping school Friday to go to Game 1 of the ALCS – if his teacher happens to be reading this, let’s pretend like this paragraph never happened – Riley, his mom, Amanda, and his dad, Michael got seats in the first row of Section 153.
“I told him before the game started,” Amanda said, “I don’t want to get hit.”
If he’d been found in violation of the rules, Riley could’ve claimed that he was merely defending his mother. As it was, the Yankees found themselves on the other side of the whim of a 12-year-old. And to think, Judge even tossed Riley a ball before the game.
“Probably won’t be so nice now,” Amanda said.