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Triple play to end a game

Posted by Andy on September 28, 2007

Wow, yesterday was a very exciting day in baseball. I'll be back later today with a News & Notes post, but first I wanted to post on something cool I found.

Using the Team Batting Event Finder, I went on a hunt to see if a game has ever ended on a triple play.

I did this by searching All Teams for non-SO Outs and then checking the box for Only DP or TP (double play or triple play.) Then, I limited the number of outs to zero, since a triple play can happen only with zero out, limited the inning to "7-end", and limited it to game-ending plays. I'm not sure whether this search would include very unusual triple plays such as a batter striking out and then two runners getting thrown out on the bases, which I believe has happened in history (though I'm not sure if to end a game.)

Anyway, barring those very unusual triple plays, the answer is that YES, a game has ended on a triple play!

 Yr#    G# Date          Batter            Tm   Opp Pitcher           Score       Inn RoB Out Cnt Pit RBI Play Desc.
    1   1 1966-09-17    Andy Etchebarren  BAL  CHW Tommy John        down   1-3  b 9 -23   0   -       0 *ENDED GAME*:Ground Ball Triple Play: 1B-SS-C-P
    1   1 1967-05-30    Phil Gagliano     STL @CIN Don Nottebart     down   1-2  t 9 1-3   0   -       0 *ENDED GAME*:Triple Play: Groundout: SS-2B-1B-C
    1   1 1977-06-03    John Wathan       KCR  BAL Tippy Martinez    down   5-7  b 9 123   0   -       1 *ENDED GAME*:Triple Play: Flyball: RF-SS-2B-SS/Sacrifice Fly; Cowens Scores
    1   1 1978-04-21    Ron Cey           LAD  HOU Ken Forsch        down   6-8  b 9 12-   0   -       0 *ENDED GAME*:Triple Play: Flyball: 1B-SS
    1   1 1991-09-08    Chris Sabo        CIN @MON Barry Jones       down   2-4  t 9 12-   0 1-0   2   0 *ENDED GAME*:Ground Ball Triple Play: 3B-2B-1B (Weak 3B)

I found these 5 occurrences since 1957. That 1977 game looks really weird--apparently John Wathan hit into a triple play but also got a sacrifice fly. From the box score, it looks like what happened is that the speedy Al Cowens tagged up and scored before two other outs got recorded on the basepaths. Indeed, this is what happened (scroll down the page.)

It looks like the Chris Sabo TP in 1991 is the only sort of ordinary triple play. All the others involved the catcher, or a fly ball, meaning something odd must have happened.

In my search I found one funky game that ended on a double play. With the bases loaded, there was a ground ball to 2B, who threw home to force the runner. Then the catcher apparently threw the ball into right field and a second runner was tagged out at 2B, and then the winning run scored. How crazy is that? I'm not able to find an account of this game--if anybody else can, please post a link.

4 Responses to “Triple play to end a game”

  1. kingturtle Says:

    The 1966-09-17 was Jim Palmer (age 20) vs. Tommy John (age 23).

    In the 1967-05-30 game, the Cards were winning 1-0, when the Reds scored 2 in the bottom of the 8th and the Reds notched the game-ending, game-winning triple play in the top of the 9th. Most have been an exciting turnabout to witness. Don Nottebart came in in relief. He pitched to only one batter, but got three outs, and the save. Quite a nice night of work. He'd go on to get only 3 more saves that season but have a great season as a middle reliever (Abernathy was the main fireman that season).

    In the 1991-09-08 game, Barry Jones (like Nottebart) pitched to one batter, got three outs and a save.

  2. statboy Says:

    Jeff Nelson deserves a mention. He entered a game in the top of the 9th inning, and threw one pitch which he turned into a triple play.

  3. Andy Says:

    What actually happened on that play? Can't tell too much from the box score.

  4. statboy Says:

    Sandy Martinez (TOR) is the batter. He hits a ground ball bunt to the left side that is fielded by the P (Jeff Nelson) who turns and throws to third to the SS (Luis Sojo) to force the runner from second, Shawn Green (OUT 1) SS throws across the diamond to the 2B (Joey Cora) who is covering first who retires the batter (OUT 2) 2B charges towards second and tags the runner from first, Alex Gonzalez (OUT 3)