TORONTO — Neither Toronto center fielder Lloyd Moseby nor umpire Dave Phillips had any doubt about the sinking liner hit by Frank White of the Kansas City Royals.
"I know I caught the baseball," Moseby said.
But the umpire countered: "He trapped it."
As usual in such baseball confrontations, the umpire won, and since the call ultimately didn't cost the Blue Jays their second victory in the American League playoff series, the controversy quickly faded into a sidelight.
But it underlined the human foibles of umpires, brought up again the issue of using televised replays to help settle difficult calls and resulted in some ugly and potentially dangerous fan emotions.
When White lined the ball off Blue Jay relief pitcher Tom Henke in the top of the 10th inning, Phillips' call appeared to be pivotal, since it allowed the Royals' Willie Wilson to score from second base, breaking a 4-4 tie.
Instead, Moseby, who may have had a play at the plate on Wilson if he hadn't trotted in holding the ball even after Phillips called Wilson safe, turned the game around in the bottom of the 10th by driving in the tying run and then scoring the game-winning run.
So, it was with a grin that he said afterward: "I'm not one to second-guess the umpire . . . umpires are the greatest humans in the world."
But he wouldn't budge in his belief that he had the ball in his glove before it hit the artificial turf.
Phillips, the chief of the six-man umpiring crew, was standing on the right-field foul line behind first base when White hit Henke's fastball. Phillips moved toward center, as did left-field umpire Darryl Cousins and second-base umpire Ted Hendry.
Normally, the call would have belonged to Hendry, who was within 50 feet of Moseby and facing the play straight on. But according to both Moseby and Phillips, Hendry didn't signal one way or the other.
Phillips said that Hendry didn't make the call because "he was not sure, so he looked to me."
"I saw the ball hit the turf," Phillips said, "(Moseby) made a nice play, and I think he thought he caught the ball, but he trapped it."
Phillips said he was 60 or 70 feet from Moseby when he reached the ball. "I had a really good angle. . . . It was a difficult call but it was the right call."
Despite his careful good humor, Moseby wouldn't give an inch, calling the ruling unbelievable. He indicated that the two other umpires involved had cost the team a run.
Moseby said he assumed White had made the third out so he began to trot toward the infield as Wilson made the turn at third and ran for home. "I looked at one (umpire), and he didn't say anything. The second ump says, 'You got it.' But the third ump . . . " He didn't finish the sentence.
The television replays were inconclusive. One from a head-on view seemed to show the ball bouncing just as Moseby's glove reached out. Two side-view shots from right field and closest to Phillips' angle, however, seemed to show that Moseby caught the ball just above the turf.
"As wet as that field was, if it had hit the turf first, you would have seen a spray," Moseby said.
Phillips said he hadn't seen the replays and couldn't comment on them. He repeatedly defended his call, however, never indicating any doubt nor admitting any need for a second opinion.
He also turned the issue around, praising instant replays for constantly vindicating umpires' calls. "Before, people assumed we were wrong (on close calls)," he said. "Now, they know we are right."
Many of the usually polite and mild-mannered Blue Jay fans wouldn't agree with that. First they booed, then they chanted obscenities and finally some threw debris on the field.
Then, the debris changed from toilet paper and plastic cups to coins, cigarette boxes and other heavy material. Phillips finally called time and ran to the infield. He called out a groundskeeper to pick up the debris and then returned to right field.
"They were throwing coins and cigarette boxes," he said. "Order had to be restored, so I called time out. It got to the point that they were throwing handfuls of change. I had to do something."
Moseby said he wasn't thinking about the play when he batted in the bottom of the 10th with one out and a man on second. "I was just trying to get the man in," he said.