Hart reflects on the catch that got away
Outfielder unfazed by running into walls; poles are another story
MILWAUKEE -- Running into the wall sometimes is an occupational hazard of being an outfielder.
On a number of occasions, Brewers right fielder Corey Hart has crashed into the wall at Miller Park. What transpired on Saturday night, however, was a first for him.
Rather than smashing into the fence, where there is some give, he connected squarely with an unyielding pole.
The end result was, instead of making a memorable postseason catch, Hart settled for making a terrific effort on what turned into a triple for Jayson Werth.
Werth opened the sixth inning by smacking a hard liner to right off Dave Bush. In full stride, Hart reached and snared the ball in his glove before he was immediately greeted by the wall. As he was flipping backwards to the ground, the ball agonizingly popped loose.
Two batters later, Werth scored the Phillies' lone run in the Brewers' 4-1 victory in Game 3 of the best-of-five National League Division Series.
"It's just like anything. Any time you have one of those highlight-reel plays, like a diving play, or robbing a home run or something, you want to make that catch," Hart said on Sunday morning before Game 4.
On the play, Hart was momentarily shaken up, but he is fine physically. He said his glove hit the wall first, and he had the ball for a few seconds before it trickled out.
"I saw it fine. Any time you hit the wall, it's going to jar you. When I caught it in my web, as soon as I hit the pole, it knocked me back," Hart said. "My hand kind of opened up, and it kind of rolled down my palm. I was trying to squeeze the ball while I was flipping."
By rule, a player in such a predicament has to show possession of the ball to the umpire to confirm a catch.
As he was spinning to the ground, Hart was attempting to secure possession to show the umpire.
"I had it in my glove for probably three seconds," he said. "The whole time I had it, and then I hit the wall. As soon as it went into my glove, I hit the wall. When I was upside down, the ball was starting to come out. I was trying not to over-rotate.
"I was still wanting them to call it an out. I've hit the wall plenty of times, but I was lucky and hit that screen. This thing, I was like, curled up, in that pole."
The no-catch ruling was made by right-field umpire Mark Wegner.
According to MLB Rule 2.00 -- Definition of Terms, a catch basically states a player has to be able to pull the ball from his glove.
The rule is defined as: "A catch is the act of a fielder in getting secure possession in his hand or glove of a ball in flight and firmly holding it, providing he does not use his cap, protector, pocket or any other part of his uniform in getting possession. It is not a catch, however, if simultaneously or immediately following his contact with the ball, he collides with a player, or with the wall, or if he falls down, and as a result of such collision or falling, drops the ball."
Although he wasn't rewarded with a catch, Hart notes the bottom line is the Brewers won to force Game 4.
He watched the replay to see how close he was to completing a great play.
"I caught it, and when I fell down, you'll see, at the last second I was trying to go for it," Hart said. "Essentially, it was right in the palm of my glove. When I hit the wall, it jarred it, and tried to squeeze it."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.