When a baseball fan hears the words “La Atrapada”, some immediately remember the impressive and trapped key Giants outfielder Willie Mays on center field at the Polo Grounds in Game 1 of the 1954 World Series.
But even Mays himself — who 35 years after the feat was serving as an instructor to the team’s rangers in San Francisco — couldn’t take responsibility for what one of his charges did in St. Louis in an April 1989 game.
“Willie called me after the game,” said Kevin Mitchell, who stunned the Giants legend with one of the most unforgettable catches in major league history. Mitchell, who turned 60 on Thursday, will never forget what Mays told him.
“He told me: ‘I never taught you how to do that.’”
The historic crimp started like any other fly ball to left field after a drive by Cardinals infielder Ozzie Smith. However, as the ball came down, Mitchell realized it had gone over his head.
“I didn’t realize at the time that, with most left-handed hitters, a fly ball that looked like it was going to be fouled would go back into fair ground,” Mitchell explained. “So, I ran too far and there was no way I could use my glove to catch the ball. So, I put out the other hand.”
Mitchell made the catch barehanded and after securing the ball, it crashed into the wall next to the foul line. Those who kept a scorebook probably added a star next to “F-7” to emphasize that they won’t see those kinds of plays for the rest of their lives.
Giants announcer Duane Kuiper would have perfectly captured the moment for all those who witnessed the play to remember when he said, “I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. Incredible!”
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Spectacular! Mitchell’s unusual catch