Sox Talk with Will Middlebrooks is a recurring content series on Middlebrooks, a former Red Sox player, and NESN analyst gives his insight and opinion on pertinent Red Sox storylines throughout the season. You can read the latest stories from the series here.

Will Middlebrooks knew it would come up when he returned to Busch Stadium this past weekend to call Boston Red Sox games for NESN and Roku.

The ballpark holds plenty of memories for the former Red Sox third baseman. And also a controversial play on baseball’s grandest stage that Middlebrooks was right in the middle of and which hasn’t been forgotten about over a decade after it happened.

It came in the bottom of the ninth inning in Game 3 of the 2013 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. After Dustin Pedroia made a diving stop on a grounder and threw out Yadier Molina at the plate, Jarrod Saltalamacchia threw to Middlebrooks at third to try to get a slow-footed Allen Craig.

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That’s when chaos ensued.

Saltalamacchia’s throw was out of the reach of Middlebrooks and caromed down the left-field line. Craig made his way to home plate but got tripped up by Middlebrooks, who was still lying on the infield dirt after trying to snag his teammate’s toss. Craig got thrown out at the plate, but home plate umpire Dana Demuth confused everyone by signaling he was safe.

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The reason why Demuth ruled that way was Middlebrooks was called for obstruction, resulting in a wild finish and a walk-off win for the Cardinals.

Middlebrooks immediately argued his case on the field but to no avail. Middlebrooks has been done arguing about the play for years, though, and now isn’t remotely bothered by the outcome of it.

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“By rule, it was the correct call,” Middlebrooks told “Am I angry about it? Absolutely not. I can put on that really cool ring and take my mind off it really quickly.”

But in the immediate aftermath of the play, Middlebrooks, who was 25 at the time and in just his second season in the big leagues, recalled feeling different about the situation.

He believed he cost the Red Sox a critical game. The Cardinals took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series before Boston won three straight games to capture the title.

“I was a really young guy on a really veteran team. My biggest thing was I felt like even though there wasn’t really anything I could do — it was a weird play — I still felt like I let my teammates down,” Middlebrooks said. “That was the hard part. The city is one thing, the organization (is another). That team was really close, and it meant a lot to me. And I didn’t want that to be the reason we didn’t get a ring. But once we won, I felt obviously a lot better. That got me past it. Had we not won, I’d probably still be beating myself a little.”

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Middlebrooks felt a little relief starting with Game 4. Not just because the Red Sox won and tied the series — Middlebrooks didn’t play in the contest — but for the blunder made by the Cardinals to end that game.

“Every time I see Kolten Wong I give him a big hug and tell him thank you as well,” Middlebrooks said with a laugh. “Game 4 he obviously got picked off to end the game and took the focus off me for a little bit.”

In a strange twist, the obstruction played ended up being the last play Middlebrooks was involved in during the World Series. It was also the final play he was a part of in the playoffs for his career as he never appeared in another postseason contest. Middlebrooks, who spent 2012-14 with the Red Sox, retired following the 2017 season.

Middlebrooks took a backseat for the rest of the series. He had been plagued by back problems since early in the season, after colliding on a foul ball with David Ross.

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“It just kind of got worse and worse as the season went on. Had cortisone shots and all that stuff,” Middlebrooks said. “By that time (in the World Series), it was hard to just get out of bed and walk. I was trying to be a good teammate and still be available and tell them, ‘You know what, if you need me I can go in, I can play, I can take my at-bats.’ Luckily in that situation where I was really struggling, Xander Bogaerts was making a name for himself at the same time. He was able to play and cover for me and play really well and it worked out. And that’s just the beauty of a team game.”

While the Red Sox returned home and clinched the World Series at Fenway Park in Game 6, Busch Stadium also served its place as the backdrop of memorable moments for Middlebrooks.

There was David Ortiz’s inspirational dugout speech in Game 4 and Jonny Gomes responding to it with a clutch home run. Of course, there was the infamous obstruction play, too.

Middlebrooks got to reminisce about it all in his return to the ballpark, which is a special place to him given all that transpired in the confines of that stadium for three nights in October 11 years ago.

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“Going to St. Louis, it’s a really cool place, a historic place, a lot of history between the Red Sox and the Cardinals,” Middlebrooks said. “But for me personally, Game 3, Game 4 and all that went on there, and Game 5, there’s a lot burned into my soul from those three games.”

Featured image via Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports Images