On May 13, 1876, the New York Mutuals turned the first known triple play. It was, we believe, a 4-3-4 play. Yup, nutty people kept track of stuff like that, even back in 1876.
They don’t happen much. The Society for American Baseball Research has tallied just 699 major league triple plays since that first one.
Last night, #700.
Because, I’m told, no one watches Houston Astros games, #700 might have gone unnoticed.
It’s a mighty pretty “around the horn” 5-4-3 triple play. It’s worth watching simply to see the magnificent Jose Altuve turning that play on second. Watch here.
The Astros went on to defeat the Detroit Tigers 3-2. It was the Astros first triple play since 2004.
The Pittsburgh Pirates also turned a triple play this season. On May 9, their triple play was the first 4-5-4 triple play in baseball history. Watch here.
While triple plays are rare, there have been only two seasons since 1876 that had no triple plays at all – 1961 and 1974. (If you think I went through all 700 triple plays one by one to find that single fact for you, you are correct.)
And, your Sunday bonus … the hidden ball trick!
In the semifinals of the Colorado Class 2A High School Baseball Championship on Saturday, the Rye High Thunderbolts executed a perfect hidden ball trick to end the game.
With two outs and the tying run on second in the ninth, the Thunderbolts pitcher fakes a high pick-off throw to second. The second baseman and outfield further the grift by pretending to hustle after the “errant throw.” The runner on second takes the bait and takes off. The pitcher runs over and tags him out with the ball still in his glove. Game over. Watch here.
“We weren’t real sure if it was going to work,” according to Rye Coach Stacey Graham. “We practice it quite a bit and we ran it one time successfully, and it worked again. It’s a tough play to do and the guys executed it real well.”
Rye High, a tiny school with just 225 students, won the game 9-8 and went on to win the state championship later that afternoon.
A gutsy play by Rye. I think that runner didn’t immediately know what had happened to him. Wonder if it will cause him to hesitate the next time he has an opportunity to steal a base. And thanks for the view of a triple play — it’s a beautiful thing to see.
I hope it reminds the baserunner to always keep his eye on the ball! :)
All of these are fun to watch. Of course, that sneaky move by Rye High gets the award for ingenuity. Neil Walker’s heads-up adjustment deserves an parking spot in the front row for sure. And the Astros? Why they just seem to be doing things the old-fashioned way this year. Home runs, solid pitching and timely triple plays.
As an O’s fan this season, I would be happy just with “home runs, solid pitching.” Heck, I’d be happy with just “home runs”. Or, just “solid pitching.” Or, even an occasional run would be all right. I’m not sure when the Orioles last turned a triple play (I guess I could look that up, couldn’t I?). I do know that Brooks Robinson turned at least 3 during his career, including twice in the 1973 season. How about that!
Brooks was a vacuum over there at the hot corner. We had our own favorite third baseman as kids – Ron Santo. Still, there were countless cries of “Brooks Robinson dives…!” as we played out our neighborhood baseball games. Those were good Orioles teams.
OK, so you knew I would have to look it up: the Orioles last turned a triple play in 2000. And, in true O’s fashion … they turned a triple play, but lost anyway.
And, for you: the Giants last turned a triple play in 2008. Oh, and wait, wouldn’t you know it … the Giants lost their game that day, too!
Well, I saw the triple play because I was watching the Tigers. The same Tigers who hit into triple plays, and double plays on a daily basis. They’re playing horrible ball right now.
I love the hidden ball trick, though! The classics never get old.
I guess we can look at the triple play two ways — first, wow! a triple play! Defense at its finest … or second, yikes! I see you’ve filled up the bases with no outs. I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that many of the teams turning the triple play go on to lose the game, because, clearly, they’re putting men on. But, not for the Tigers … those Astros are pretty hot right now.
It’s like that old Brooklyn Dodger’s joke … “The Dodgers put a lot of men on base today.” “Oh, really? Which one?”
I know, I’m a sucker for the hidden ball trick, too … as long as it’s not played on me! :)