General Baseball

Double Triple

Alluding to an earlier comment/post regarding the Sox hitting into two triple plays in the same game, here’s the history. My Dad and I were (un)lucky to be at the historic game:

On July 17, 1990, Gaetti and the Twins recorded two triple plays against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. In the fourth inning, with three Boston runners on board, Gaetti went 5-4-3 on a ground ball hit by former teammate Tom Brunansky. In the eighth, with runners on first and second, Jody Reed grounded to Gaetti, who again stepped on third, fired to shortstop Al Newman at second, who relayed to first for the triple play. Despite the defensive gems, the Twins lost, 1-0.

4 replies on “Double Triple”

I was in the stands when Oakland’s Randy Velarde turned an unassisted triple-play against the Yankees. The triple play in general is so odd – you go from 2 on or bases loaded and no outs to “whaaaaa? why are they running off the field?”

Most of you know that the unassisted triple play is the rarest feat in baseball – only 12 have happened during the modern era. All of them have been basically the same play: line drive up the middle caught by the second baseman or shortstop who steps on second then tags the runner. Surprisingly two of them have been completed by first baseman, who after tagging the runner off first (or touching the bag) proceeded to touch second instead of throwing the ball to a teammate. The famous one was completed in the 1920 World Series by Bill Wambsganss. What’s un-f**cking-believable is that two of the unassisted triple plays occurred on May 30 and then on May 31 of the same year, 1927!!

The triple play is not, as the item I posted states a “defensive gem”, but a defensive oddity. Semantic quibble, I realize, but it’s like calling hitting for the cycle a “thing of beauty”. It isn’t, though it is a notable occurrence. A triple play (or the cycle) is quite an interesting event, but it’s gem-tacularness is an aesthetic and situationally subjective thing. In the Twins/Sox game, both triple plays were just glorified double play balls where Gaetti was fortunately playing right on or next to the bag, with slow runners at the plate, they were hardly gems (and that’s not just because I was rooting for the Sox!), in the way that we think of spectacular defensive plays as gems.

Velarde’s triple play was about as described above. Tino Martinez was on second, Jorge Posada on first (speed on the bases!), and Torre decided (well, probably Zimmer) that a hit-and-run would be useful with Shane Spencer batting. Line drive right to Velarde, who tagged Posada running to second before stepping on second base. And to go with your “gem vs. oddity” theory, Velarde had two errors in the game to go with his unassisted triple play.
In any case, I recall it took most of us at least a full half-inning before we all figured out that it was unassisted.
I was there with my mother’s husband – he grew up in Brooklyn, and hadn’t seen a live baseball game since the 50s. Turned into a pretty nice game to see – Velarde’s triple play, a home run and a triple by Bernie Williams, and complete games by both Pettitte and Olivares.

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