Phillies' Infielder's Unassisted Triple Play
NEAL CONAN, host:
So here's the situation at City Field in Queens yesterday afternoon. The New York Mets trail 9-7, bottom of the ninth. Philadelphia Phillies' second baseman Eric Bruntlett muffs two ground balls to put the tying runs on first and second. With nobody out, the Mets try the hit-and-run play. Both runners take off as the pitcher delivers.
Mets' batter Jeff Francoeur smacks a line drive right into Bruntlett's glove. That's one out. Bruntlett then steps on second base to double up the lead runner - two outs - and then turned and tags the man running toward him from first. Ball game over on an unassisted triple play. That is baseball's ultimate rarity, so unusual that baseball nerds treasure the name of Bill Wambsganss, the author of the only unassisted triple play in the World Series in 1920.
According the Elias Sports Bureau, Bruntlett is just the 15th fielder to pull off the trick in the Major Leagues and just the second ever to end a game. The only other example dates to 1927. Two other feats in baseball are almost as unusual. One batter belts two grand slams in a single game and a perfect game, where a pitcher retires every man he faces, 27 up, 27 down. Both have happened fewer than 20 times in history, both have happened this year.
In today's New York Times, George Bretherton reminded us of the philosopher Joaquin Andujar, a Major League pitcher who once said that life and baseball can be summed up in a single word, you never know.
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CONAN: If, for some reason, you were not glued to the Mets-Phillies game yesterday, we posted a link to the video of the triple play, that's at npr.org, click on TALK OF THE NATION.
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