Before the Middlebrooks obstruction, there was Ed Armbrister in 1975
In Game 3 of the 1975 World Series between the Red Sox and Reds, in the home half of the 10th inning at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, one of the most famous controversial plays in Boston sports occured.
With the score tied, 5-5, the Reds’ Cesar Geronimo opened with a single, prompting manager Sparky Anderson to order utility outfielder Ed Armbrister to attempt a sacrifice bunt. Armbrister got his bat on the ball, which took an uncharacteristically high chop off the the ground. Fisk flung off his mask as he bounded out to field it. Thus ignited the controversy.
The rigththanded-hitting Armbister, after initially breaking a step toward first, moved slightly back toward the batter’s box, initiating a collision with the bigger, hard-charging Fisk.
"I just stood there for a moment, watching it,’’ Armbrister explained in the moments after the mayhem. "Then [Fisk] came up from behind me and bumped me as he took the ball. I just stood there because he hit me in the back and I couldn’t move." The two finally disentangled, Fisk collected the ball and pegged it toward second in hopes of cutting down Geronimo.
The wild throw eluded shortstop Rick Burleson and sailed into center field. Geronimo scooted around to third, Armbrister wheeled all the way to second, and the stage was set for impending disaster when Reds second baseman Joe Morgan stroked the game-winning single that gave Cincinnati a 6-5 win and a 2-1 lead in the Series.
In the photo, home plate umpire Larry Barnett explained his verdict to a hostile jury of catcher Carlton Fisk (left), manager Darrell Johnson (center), and third baseman Rico Petrocelli.