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What is the worst blown call in sports history?

What is the worst blown call in sports history?


Wilmer Flores is called out against the Dodgers. Jed Jacobsohn/AP Photo

Welcome to’s Sports Q, our daily conversation, initiated by you and moderated by Chad Finn, about a compelling topic in Boston sports. Here’s how it works: You submit questions to Chad through Twitter, Facebook, and email. He’ll pick one each weekday to answer, then we’ll take the discussion to the comments. Chad will stop by several times per day to navigate. But you drive the conversation. 

What is the worst umpiring/officiating call in sports history?

Yes, this is about last night. No, Wilmer Flores did not swing. Yes, the Giants got robbed.

All of that said: Go Mookie.

Oh, and also: That wasn’t the worst call in sports history, even with some very high stakes attached to it, given that the Giants and Dodgers – both with 109 wins, playoffs included – were playing a winner-take-all Game 5 in the NLCS.

The worst call, if we’re being parochial about it, is referee Ben Dreith’s phantom roughing-the-passer call on Patriots defensive lineman Ray “Sugar Bear” Hamilton in the 1976 AFC divisional round. The Patriots, who were 11-3 that season with their first truly great team, led 21-17 with less than 2 minutes to play. On third down and 18, Hamilton was called for roughing Raiders QB Ken Stabler, giving Oakland a first down on the Patriots 13 with 57 seconds left. Stabler scored the winning touchdown on a 1-yard run for a 24-21 Raiders win/robbery. They would go on to win the Super Bowl.

It should be noted here that the Tuck Rule call in the 2001 Divisional Round matchup between the Patriots and Raiders was not a blown call, but the correct call of a stupid rule. You know what else it was? Karma.

The runner-up for Worst Call, New England Sports Division is probably umpire Larry Barnett’s failure to call interference on the Reds’ Ed Armbrister after he – well, interfered – with Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk on a bunt in the 10th inning of Game 3 of the 1975 World Series.

The most damaging blown call in sports history was probably umpire Don Denkinger’s safe call on the Royals’ Jorge Orta at first base in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series. The Cardinals led the game, 1-0, and the series, 3-2, but the blown call sparked a Royals rally, and they clobbered the Cardinals in Game 7.

Also worth a mention: Jim Joyce’s erroneous safe call on what would have been the final out of Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga’s perfect game was brutal, but it was remarkable to see how gracefully Galarraga handled it.

But what does everyone else think? What is the worst blown call in sports history? I’ll hear you in the comments.