Fan interference is far from an everyday problem, but as many who watch the game can attest, it takes away opportunities for one team or another several times over the course of the season.
Before video review became a reality, fan interference that was missed could not be rectified. Look no further than Derek Jeter’s home run in game one of the 1996 ALCS. Even today it can still cause major problems. Josh Reddick has a case for the impact of Victor Martinez’s fly ball that was ruled a home run despite interference in game four of last year’s divisional series. Official review of such a play becomes a highly-contested judgment call.
There’s a major problem in terms of prevention, the one approach that could lessen occurrences. How can fan interference be stopped before it happens so it doesn’t continue to work against the integrity of the game?
The primary means to prevent interference is usually an announcement. But it’s a drop in the midst of a sea. This message is usually made along with similar warnings concerning the behavior that will result in ejection from the stadium and/or fines or jail time. In that context, it’s not enough. The announcement is clearly the least memorable compared to surrounding ones, and those who don’t occupy their seats until later innings may miss it altogether. It’s time for a positive way to present the message to catch their attention.