Unassisted triple play

Unassisted triple play

In baseball, an unassisted triple play occurs when a defensive player makes all three putouts by himself in one continuous play, without any teammates touching the ball (assist). In Major League Baseball, it is the rarest of individual feats, occurring less frequently than even a perfect game and hitting four home runs in one game (although these are equal if a disputed unassisted triple play is included). During a span of over 65 seasons (June 1927 to September 1992), there was only one unassisted triple play in the major leagues, made in July 1968. Even "ordinary" (assisted) triple plays are fairly rare, occurring a few times per year.

Specific conditions must be met for the play even to be possible, and these normally indicate impending trouble for the pitcher. There must be no outs in the inning and at least two runners on base (usually only two) who are running with the pitch, as in a hit and run. Finally, the batter must make excellent contact with the pitch, resulting in a line drive hit directly at an infielder, usually either the shortstop or second baseman.

All unassisted triple plays except one have taken this form: the infielder catches a line drive (one out), steps on a base to double off a runner (two outs), and tags another runner on the runner's way to the next base (three outs) (almost universally, the "next base" is the same base on which the infielder stepped to record the second out). Sometimes the order of the last two is switched. Because the fielder usually has to be between the two runners, most of these plays have been accomplished by middle infielders (second basemen and shortstops), but two were completed by first basemen who were able to reach second base before the returning baserunner. The only unassisted triple play that did not take this form occurred in the 19th century under rules that are no longer in play.

The feat has only occurred 14 times in modern major league history, plus once in the 19th century (that one being disputed). By comparison, there have been 17 perfect games since 1870, including two in the 19th century; on 15 occasions a player has hit four home runs in a game, including twice in the 19th century. Six of the unassisted triple plays occurred in the 1920s, the sixth coming a day after the fifth. Since 1991 there have been six.

The unassisted triple play, the perfect game, and hitting four homers in one game are thus comparable in terms of rarity, but the perfect game and the home run record require an extraordinary effort along with a fair amount of luck. By contrast, the unassisted triple play is essentially always a matter of luck: the right circumstances, combined with the relatively simple effort of catching the ball and running the right direction with it. Troy Tulowitzki said of his feat, "It fell right in my lap," and as WGN-TV sports anchor Dan Roan commented, "That's the way these plays always happen." Regardless, to baseball purists, there is a certain "neatness" to the fact that in the long history of the World Series, the only triple play was of the unassisted variety and the only no-hitter was Don Larsen's perfect game.

MLB unassisted triple plays

19th century (disputed)

*Paul Hines, May 8, by|1878, Providence Grays (vs. Boston Red Caps)
**With runners on second and third, center fielder Hines caught a line drive from Jack Burdock that the runners thought was uncatchable. When he caught it, both runners had already passed third. Hines stepped on third, which by the rules of the day meant both runners were out. To make sure, he threw the ball to Charlie Sweasy at second base. It is still debated whether this was truly an unassisted triple play. (Modern rules would indeed have required the ball either to be conveyed to second base to put out the runner who had been on that base and had not tagged up, or to tag that runner.) According to the Society for American Baseball Research, the runner coming from second, Ezra Sutton, had not yet touched third base, which would mean that even by 19th century rules the play was not complete until Hines threw to second, and thus the play was not unassisted. [ [http://tripleplays.sabr.org/tp_1870.htm Baseball's Triple Plays 1876-1879 ] ] Ernest J. Lanigan's "Baseball Cyclopedia", 1922, which covers professional baseball back to 1876, states on p.157 that Neal Ball in 1909 was "the first major leaguer to make an unassisted triple play." "The Sporting News Baseball Record Book", which covers records back to 1876, likewise does not list Hines' play in the section on unassisted triple plays.

Modern era


External links

* SABR [http://tripleplays.sabr.org/tp_utp.htm list] of unassisted triple plays
* Baseball America [http://baseball-almanac.com/feats/feats8.shtml list]
* Cecil Adams, [http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a2_173.html How is an unassisted triple play accomplished in baseball?] The Straight Dope, September 21, 1984.
* [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/baseball/news/2003/08/10/unassisted_tripleplay_ap/ Sports Illustrated: Rarest of feats]
* [http://atlanta.braves.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/atl/history/sights_sounds.jsp MLB.com: Atlanta Braves history, with video of Furcal's unassisted triple play]
* [http://seth.com/coll_memorabilia_05.html The Seth Swirsky collection has the glove used by Jimmy Cooney when he pulled off his unassisted triple play as well as the only ball signed by all of the players who made unassisted triple plays.]
* [http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jspymd=20080512&content_id=2686835&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb Cabrera turns unassisted triple play]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Triple play — In baseball, a triple play (denoted by TP) is the rare act of making three outs during the same continuous play in baseball. There are many ways a triple play can be performed; most of them are done with runners on first and second base.… …   Wikipedia

  • triple play — noun a) A rare defensive play in which three outs are recorded. There has only been one unassisted triple play recorded in the World Series. b) An offering of three bundled services, especially telephone, television and …   Wiktionary

  • Triple jeu (baseball) — Triple jeu Pour les articles homonymes, voir Triple play et TP. Le triple jeu (noté TP), ou en anglais triple play, est une action de baseball au cours de laquelle la défense parvient à éliminer trois adversaires lors de la même action de jeu.… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Triple jeu — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Triple play et TP. Le triple jeu (noté TP), ou en anglais triple play, est une action de baseball au cours de laquelle la défense parvient à éliminer trois adversaires lors de la même action de jeu. Cette action… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Double play — This article is about the baseball play. For double play magnetic tape, see audio tape length and thickness. For the jazz album, see Double Play!. After stepping on second base, the fielder throws to first to complete a double play In baseball, a …   Wikipedia

  • Contact play — The contact play is a base running play in the sport of baseball. It can take place with a runner on third base and/or a runner at second base. Similar to the safety squeeze play, the runner at third breaks for home as soon as he sees that the… …   Wikipedia

  • Major League Baseball Triple Crown — For other uses, see Triple crown (disambiguation) …   Wikipedia

  • Double Play — ist ein Fachausdruck beim Baseball, der das „aus machen“ zweier Angreifer in einem einzigen Spielzug beschreibt. Mit einem Double Play kann die Defensivmannschaft eine zunächst für die Offensive vielversprechende Spielsituation sehr schnell zu… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Troy Tulowitzki — Infobox MLB player name = Troy Tulowitzki width = 250 caption = team = Colorado Rockies number = 2 position = Shortstop birthdate = birth date and age|1984|10|10 birthplace = city state|Santa Clara|California bats = Right throws = Right debutdate …   Wikipedia

  • Bill Wambsganss — William Adolf Wambsganss (March 19, 1894 December 8, 1985) was a second baseman in Major League Baseball. From 1914 through 1926, Wambsganss played for the Cleveland Indians (1914 23), Boston Red Sox (1924 25) and Philadelphia Athletics (1926).… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”