While the Safeco Field ground rules listed in the Mariners media guide indicate a ball that hits the roof can be caught for an out, third baseman Chone Figgins said after the game that the third-base umpire told him the ball was out of play once it hit the overhanging truss in foul territory.
Manager Eric Wedge said that indeed is the rule, as spelled out on ground rules listed in the clubhouse that apparently have been tweaked over the years. Until Monday, no batter had hit the roof since the ballpark opened in 1999.
"If it hits the roof in foul territory, it's dead. It doesn't matter what happens after that," Wedge said. "It's just a foul ball. If it hits -- and I looked up there last night, and unless Dave Kingman comes back from retirement -- if it hits the top in fair territory then it's live, wherever it lands or whoever catches it."
Mariners officials estimated the roof truss is about 175 feet above the field at the place where Raburn's foul ball hit. The ball then deflected back between a startled Figgins and catcher Miguel Olivo, falling to the turf in foul territory before they could react.
Figgins said he was surprised the ball wasn't in play, given ground rules at the Rays' Tropicana Field allow such balls to be caught in similar situations. Given the Safeco Field roof isn't closed that often, and no one had ever hit it before, it's not likely a play that will come into play very often.
"I've never seen a fly ball hit that high," Figgins said.