Triple plays are always unexpected. The offense in a second is mounting a rally and in the blink of an eye the inning is over. The defenders stare as they leave the field, as if wondering, “Did we really do that?” Or “How many outs did we make?”
But while there have been 727 triple plays in Major League history – each with its own uniqueness – nothing compares to the one that ended the game between Red Sox and Cleveland on September 7, 1935. It was not just a triple play. gold, but started with a line that hit third baseman Odell Hale square in the head.
Hale – who once hit 50 doubles in a season and was known as “Bad News” for his power at the plate – was patrolling third that day. He was also considered a good glove, and the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph recognized his good work more than once after the move to the anteroom. But this day, it wasn’t his people, but his head, that helped Cleveland.
Cleveland had a 5-1 lead over the Red Sox at the end of the ninth, but Boston had mounted a threat. They ran two runs and had the bases loaded with no out. Joe Cronin then came to the plate and sent a line up the sides of third.
Cronin’s hit came so hard Hale didn’t have time to get his glove on. Cronin probably thought he had a hit – an extra-base hit, perhaps – and would add one or more RBIs. But instead, “Bad News” had good news for the Indians.
The ball bounced off his head, so high that shortstop Bill Knickerbocker had time to catch it before he fell for the first out. Knickerbocker threw it to Ray Hughes to double the runner at second and then Hughes threw it to Hal Trosky at first to sentence the game. That’s right, a triple play of gold by way of 5-6-4-3.
While there are no videos of the game, the infographic published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is perhaps even better.
Unfortunately, if Hale ever made any comment on the play, there is no trace of that. After the tripleplay, the teams had to play the second engagement of a doubleheader, in which Hale had two hits during another Cleveland victory.
By Michael Clair / MLB.com
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MLB: The rarest triple play in history happened in 1934 and was done by Cleveland