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Walk-off balks

Posted by Andy on February 10, 2010

It seems we cannot generate a list of walk-off balks (meaning balks that were the last play of the game, allowing the winning run to score) using the Play Index, so I thought I'd beseech you, the readers, to help me generate a list. Perhaps someone has already compiled one?

Please provide links below to box scores for games that ended on a balk or to a list on an outside website that has a full list.

I'll get us started.

There was this 2000 game where John Rocker balked in the winning run.

The Braves were on the winning side of a walk-off balk in this 1993 game.

Just as I was writing this, Raphy mentioned that he thinks Sean might have posted a complete list of walk-off balks on the old B-R blog before the merge with the 'Stat of the Day' blog, but we can't seem to find it. Anyway I'll see if Sean still has it but in the meantime let's see what our readers can find.

15 Responses to “Walk-off balks”

  1. Tom Orf Says:

    Not sure if it helps by the Cardinals have never had one, they did score the winning run in the top of the 10th on 5/28/2004 at Houston by Ray Lankford. They have won only one game on a hit-by-pitch on 7/25/1974 vs. the Mets by Jerry DaVanon in the 10th.

  2. Raphy Says:

    Here's a start:

    Thursday, July 21, 2005
    Walk-Off Balk

    Last week (July 15th) Mike Stanton of the Nationals committed a balk that ended the game in Milwaukee's 4-3 victory. Sensing that this was a rarity some industrious SABR members have dug a bit and found the following other instances where a walk-off balk occurred:

    # May 28, 1989. NYM 3 @ LAD 4. Roger McDowell took the loss.

    # July 4, 1993. FLA 3 @ ATL 4. Matt Turner took the loss. Ed Rapuano called the balk.

    # April 28, 2000. TEX 3 @ BAL 4. Jeff Zimmerman took the loss. Ian Lamplugh called the balk.

    # May 8, 2000. ATL 2 @ FLA 3. John Rocker took the loss. Mike DiMuro called the balk.

    # April 19, 2004. OAK 1 @ SEA 2. Justin Duchscherer took the loss.
    Mike DiMuro called the balk.

    # July 15, 2005. WAS 3 @ MIL 4. Mike Stanton took the loss. Paul Schrieber called the balk.

    And who says baseball isn't endlesss fascinating?

  3. Chris Says:

    Here are three more:

    I remembered the first one, and a little bit of searching brought me to this Jayson Stark article which states that these are the only three extra-inning game-ending balks going back 30 years from 2004.

  4. Raphy Says:

    I don't know if there is anything new here, but I looked for all games in which a reliever finished a losing game, recorded a balk and pitched less than 1 inning. Then I checked the games in which the pitcher pitched in the 9th or later and only lost by 1 run. Here are all (from what I can tell) the walk-off balks by pitchers who threw less than 1 inning (since 1954):

    This doesn't include relief appearances of more than one inning or complete games. Maybe there will be time to check that later...

  5. Raphy Says:

    Among relievers with more than at least 1 IP since 1954(I checked those on the road who lost the game, recorded a balk, pitched in the ninth and only lost by a run) we have these:

    I think that these 2 lists should cover all those allowed by relievers.

  6. Raphy Says:

    As for starters- I check all the games since 1954 in which a visiting starter:
    1) Allowed a balk
    2) Pitched a cg
    3) pitched in the 9th inning or beyond.
    4) Lost by only 1 run

    None of those games ended in a balk.

    Unless I missed something, that means that since 1954, there have been 12 walk-off balks.

  7. statboy Says:

    Walk-off balks? C'mon guys...they're called balk-offs! 🙂

  8. Andy Says:

    Fair enough, statboy 🙂

  9. Gerry Says:

    Credit for the list in #2 should go to one particular SABR member, Harold Mortimer.

  10. Michael Says:

    Charlie Brown balked in the winning run one time in Peanuts.....

  11. Raphy Says:

    back to back to lose the championship.
    July 22, 1962

  12. SJBlonger Says:

    A run of the Retrosheet database confirms this is the complete list, 1954-2008 (12 games), all identified above. I haven't imported 2009 yet.

  13. DoubleDiamond Says:

    Somehow, a win via a balk cheapens things for me. I have only been a fan, not a player, and I don't understand why balks are even called.

    And in some instances, the called balk came as a result of something beyond the player's control. The most famous one occurred in an early 1960s All-Star Game in Candlestick Park in which Stu Miller (supposedly a fairly light weight - literally speaking - player) got blown off the mound, and a balk was called. Would love to see that on video, if it exists! Since San Francisco's current top pitcher, Tim Lincecum, is also literally lightweight, it's a good thing the team is not playing in "The Stick" any more. Of course, the new ballpark may be subject to similar problems.

    I remember seeing a game on T.V. in the 1990s in which a pitcher dropped the ball in mid-windup, clearly accidentally, and a balk was called. If I remember correctly, the pitcher was Mark Portugal. Since it was a game I saw on T.V., and I watched a lot of Braves games on T.V., it was possibly this game:

    Incidentally, I finally signed up for a subscription to the PlayIndex yesterday, and this was the first use I made of it for a comment post for this blog. Remembering that Portugal was probably the pitcher, I searched for a game log of all of his balks. He had seven in his career, none of which came in a game in which he was the losing pitcher! Five of them were in games he started. He had two wins and three no decisions in these starts. His team went 2-1 in the no decisions starts. In his two relief appearances, his team went 0-2, but he didn't figure in the decisions, nor did he get any blown saves or blown holds.

    The balk in the referenced game put a runner in scoring position with nobody out, and indeed a single was hit one out later with that runner still on second. However, the runner who had advanced on the balk was thrown out at home while trying to score on that hit.

  14. Tomepp Says:

    An old curmudgeon, but I've got to agree with DoubleDiamond. The "logic" behind the call is to prevent the pitcher from dekeing a baserunner and throwing him out. But [a] there's no rule preventing other fielders from tricking the runner (e.g. the old "hidden ball trick"), and [b] there's a safe place for the runner - touching the base! There is no rule that requires baserunners to get a lead; if the runner wants to play it safe, just stay on the bag until the pitch heads towards home plate.

    If they got rid of the balk rule, there would be fewer stolen bases (only really good base stealers would try to get good leads and steal bases), and more importantly fewer throws to first to hold the runner. If the Commissioner really wants to explore ways to speed up the game, here's a good one!

  15. Johnny Twisto Says:

    At the very least, the rule should be pared down and made more consistent.