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Game-Ending Triple Plays and Walk-Off Double Plays

Posted by Raphy on August 17, 2011

Searching the Batting-Event Finder for game ending double or triple plays with no outs in the ninth inning or later yields 2 interesting lists. One is a list of game-ending triple plays ; the other is a list of plays in which the winning run scores on a double play. I'll separate the lists and combine the years to make the reading easier.

First the game-ending triple plays:

Yr# Gm# Date Batter Tm Opp Pitcher Score Inn RoB Out Pit(cnt) RBI WPA RE24 LI Play Description
1 1 1953-05-22 Irv Noren NYY @WSH Bob Porterfield down 12-4 t9 12- 0 0 -0.00 -1.48 .10 *ENDED GAME*:Line Drive Triple Play: P-1B-SS
2 1 1953-08-29 Karl Olson BOS @CHW Virgil Trucks down 5-1 t9 12- 0 0 -0.07 -1.51 1.57 *ENDED GAME*:Line Drive Triple Play: 1B-SS
3 1 1955-09-25 (2) Bobby Hofman NYG PHI Jack Meyer down 3-1 b9 12- 0 0 -0.33 -1.51 5.20 *ENDED GAME*:Line Drive Triple Play: SS-2B-1B
4 1 1966-09-17 Andy Etchebarren BAL CHW Tommy John down 3-1 b9 -23 0 0 -0.42 -1.89 4.96 *ENDED GAME*:Ground Ball Triple Play: 1B-SS-C-P
5 1 1967-05-30 Phil Gagliano STL @CIN Don Nottebart down 2-1 t9 1-3 0 0 -0.55 -1.82 4.52 *ENDED GAME*:Triple Play: Groundout: SS-2B-1B-C
6 1 1977-06-03 John Wathan KCR BAL Tippy Martinez down 7-5 b9 123 0 1 -0.51 -1.36 6.61 *ENDED GAME*:Triple Play: Flyball: RF-SS-2B-SS/Sacrifice Fly; Cowens Scores
7 1 1978-04-21 Ron Cey LAD HOU Ken Forsch down 8-6 b9 12- 0 0 -0.31 -1.41 5.19 *ENDED GAME*:Triple Play: Flyball: 1B-SS
8 1 1991-09-08 Chris Sabo CIN @MON Barry Jones down 4-2 t9 12- 0 2 (1-0) 0 -0.26 -1.42 4.49 *ENDED GAME*:Ground Ball Triple Play: 3B-2B-1B (Weak 3B)
9 1 2009-08-23 Jeff Francoeur NYM PHI Brad Lidge down 9-7 b9 12- 0 5 (2-2) 0 -0.32 -1.47 5.20 *ENDED GAME*:Line Drive Triple Play: 2B unassisted (SS-2B); Castillo out at 2B/2B; Murphy out at 1B/2B
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 8/16/2011.

and the Walk-Off Double Plays

Yr# Gm# Date Batter Tm Opp Pitcher Score Inn RoB Out Pit(cnt) RBI WPA RE24 LI Play Description
1 1 1956-07-27 Roy Campanella BRO CHC Turk Lown tied 3-3 b10 12- 0 1 (0-0) 0 0.18 3.22 *ENDED GAME*:Double Play: Bunt Groundout: 3B-2B-SS-2B; Hodges Scores/No RBI
2 1 1973-06-21 Bob Robertson PIT NYM Tug McGraw tied 1-1 b9 123 0 0 0.07 2.67 *ENDED GAME*:Double Play: Groundout: 2B-C/Forceout at Hm; Oliver out at 2B/RF-SS; Cash Scores/No RBI
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 8/16/2011.

31 Responses to “Game-Ending Triple Plays and Walk-Off Double Plays”

  1. Fitz Says:

    That Francoeur play was a line drive up the middle to Eric Bruntlett, who had made two errors to put both runners on. Easily one of the strangest sequences I've ever seen on sports.

  2. Doug Says:

    I was really struggling to fathom a walk-off double play. How could a team take two other outs while permitting the winning run to score?

    So, not surprising it's only happened twice, and that each of those times had a peculiarity about it.

    Dodger-Cub game - the winning run score from second on a bunt. Appears the Cubs, reasonably enough, thought they could turn two and keep the winning run at 3rd. Some daring baserunning and/or an inaccurate throw home (speculation) was probably responsible.

    Pirate-Met game - bases loaded, lead runner retired at home, catcher throws into RF, and following runner scores when right-fielder throws into 2nd. So, most likely:
    - catcher threw wild into RF trying to retire runner at 1st
    - RF fielded the wild throw quickly, stopping Cash at 3rd and catching Oliver between 2nd and 3rd
    - Oliver was caught at 2nd diving back to the bag
    - Winning run scored on inattention and/or a wild/late throw home by the shortstop after recording the out at 2nd.

    So, it takes a pretty unusual set of circumstances for a walk-off double play.

  3. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    I can recall listening to that 4/21/78 Astros-Dodgers game on the radio. Most deflating finish I've ever known. Line drive to first baseman Bob Watson with both baserunners on the move, two short throws, boom, over. One moment you're caught up in the excitement of a potential game-tying, bottom-of-the-ninth rally, and the next moment John Ramsey is intoning the final totals.

  4. Gonzo Says:

    Chris Sabo :Ground Ball Triple Play: 3B-2B-1B (Weak 3B)

    Can anyone explain 'weak 3b'?

  5. Jimbo Says:

    I believe that means the ball was hit weakly to the 3b.

  6. Doc from MD Says:

    Wathan's was a sacrifice fly.

    Etchebarren's came after consecutive doubles without the run scoring.

  7. Al Dimond Says:

    @4,5: Interesting, then, that they were able to turn a triple-play on a weak-hit ball. Did Sabo trip over himself running to first?

  8. flyingelbowsmash Says:

    Sabo tripped over his goggles.

  9. eorns Says:

    In the 6/3/77 play a run actually scored on the triple play. I wonder if that's the only time that's happened.

    Anyone else have explanations for these plays? Some are hard to make sense of.

    The NY Times account of the 6/21/73 Mets-Pirates game says that 2B Millan threw home to get the force, but the runner made catcher Dyer throw the ball into right field, right to Staub, who threw to SS Fregosi, yelling at him to tag runner Oliver who had rounded the base too far. Since his back was to the plate Fregosi "followed Staub's advice, according to baseball protocol". He got Oliver, but Cash had already rounded third headed home, and by the time he realized this, it was too late. Staub was quoted as saying "It was just one of those things. When I called to Fregosi, Cash hadn't even reached third and I thought he had time to make that putout". Only 10,099 fans saw this play.

    The NY Times account of the 7/27/56 Dodgers-Cubs game says that the pitcher let Campanella's popup bunt drop and threw to first. Amoros, who was on first, got hung up between first and second, and "nobody on the Bruins appeared to pay any attention to Hodges [the runner who began at second]" and he scored the winning run as Amoros was tagged out.

    Side note, why are the Cubs called the "Bruins"? The article also calls the Brooklyn Dodgers "the Brooks", which I hadn't heard either, but makes sense.

  10. Phil Haberkorn in Indiana Says:

    WALK-OFF. I hate that word.
    Game-ending: a little too vague.
    Game-Winning. Now that tells you what happened.

    For example:
    "Cubs fans were stunned into silence at Darwin Barney's walk-off triple play last night - - -"

    OK, Mr. Barney must have hit into a TP and the Cubs lost?

    "- - -before erupting into a standing ovation that went on for 20 minutes in celebration of their first World Series Championship in over one hundred years.."

    OK, now I get it. The Cubbies WON the game, thanks to an apparently unassisted TP by Mr. Barney. So why not just SAY "game-winning?"

    Because some announcer thought he'd be cute, and others thought it's cool and we've been hearing them all do it ever since, that's why. I bet it was McCarver or Costas, they're always trying to be so clever with words.

    In respect of tradition, please do not ever refer to Bill Mazeroski's walk-off World Series - clinching home run. For one thing, I think they carried him off the field on their shoulders, he didn't have to walk.....

    Doug, re: post #2, it's good that you posted those situations, because a DP or TP sometimes is the only way the scorekeeper can summarize the play which might actually have been the result of something wacky. Like the Cubs winning a World Series.

  11. Brian Says:

    @10 Did you have some sort of traumatizing experience with the word "walk-off"? Take about 302 chill pills.

  12. Phil Haberkorn in Indiana Says:

    To Brian, post 11:

    Yes, in fact, I am still undergoing therapy, lo these many years later.

    I was a Little League coach back in the 70s, and somebody broke into the garage one night and WALKED OFF with all our team's equipment.
    When I learned that the league did not have insurance coverage for something like this, other coaches and parents passed the hat to pay for replacement stuff, but after that it was like we were playing with THEIR equipment and I'd better not lose it again, and "walk-off" always hits a raw nerve with me, like an accusation.

    I quit the Chill Pills long ago, after my metabolism developed an immunity to them.

  13. DoubleDiamond Says:

    @9 - I've posted here before about a 1973 game in Montreal between the Expos and their 1969 NL expansion mates the Padres in which a ball hit with the bases loaded and nobody out eventually led to one run scoring and three outs being made. But I don't think it was in the 9th inning.

    I just found it again. It was in the top of the 7th on June 13, 1973.

    Of course, I thought of that Eric Bruntlett unassisted triple play as soon as I saw the topic. I had also thought that Richie Ashburn hit into a game-ending triple play for the Mets during his last-ever at-bat in the final game of the 1962 season, but I have recently learned that this happened in an earlier inning, probably the 8th. In fact, I just found the game here, and not only was it in the 8th inning, but Ashburn was not the one who hit into it. He singled to put runners on first and second with nobody out and was one of the runners wiped out in the triple play.

  14. Hector Says:

    @1, minor correction, only one error for bruntlett, but he butchered a manageable ball into a single. And yes, great sequence.

  15. kds Says:

    @10, Dickson's Baseball Dictionary credits Eckersley with originating 'Walk-off". Eck called a game winning hit, especially a HR, a "walk-off piece". He was specifically referring to the pitcher of the visiting team walking off the field after giving up the winning run.

  16. David Frantz Says:

    I notice this has never happened, but I would like to see sometime what I call the Ultimate Triple Play, the opposite of the Ultimate Grand Slam: a team with the bases loaded down by one in the bottom of the 9th or extras hits into a walk-off triple play.

  17. Gonzo Says:

    @16 David Frantz: See Eric Bruntlett's Triple Play.

  18. rogerbusby Says:

    @10 It could have been worse.

    If I remember right, there was about 15 minutes there where a walk off homer was called a "Sayonara Shot".

    @13 It was, however, Joe Pignatano's final career atbat.

  19. Andy R Says:

    #3 Kahuna- Ahh , John Ramsey- one of my favorite PA announcers growing up- always sounded like he had indigestion...

  20. Brendan Says:


    The catcher would have been charged with an error if your hypothesis is true, as the run would not have scored without the wild throw. This proves your hypothesis to be false for two reasons: there were no errors charged to the Mets, and by rule it would not be credited as a double play in the first place if there was an error between the outs.

  21. RobMer Says:

    I was at the 8/23/09 game at CitiField. Without an announcer guiding the crowd, some of the people around me (both Met and Philly fans) were stunned for a second trying to figure out what happened, when I said (not 100% sure myself) that it looks like we just saw a game-ending triple play, then realizing as I ran the play through my head again that it was an unassisted triple play to end the game. I didn't know how rare that was at the time, but I was correct in believing I had just seen something more rare than the perfect game I saw David Cone pitch a decade earlier at Yankee Stadium.

    I guess living now in a two-team town increases my chances of seeing something unusual!

  22. Tim L Says:

    I wanna see some video of these game-winning DPs, because I don't really follow the sequence in the gamelogs.

  23. RobMer Says:

    Raphy, there seems to be one game-ending triple play missing from your list.

    Referencing my @21 post, the game-ending, unassisted triple play I witnessed at CitiField in August 2009 was only the second unassisted triple play to end a ballgame in the history of MLB. The other was happened on 5/31/27, when Johnny Neun of the Detroit Tigers turned a game-ending unassisted triple play against the Cleveland Indians.

    Unless my eyes are tricking me and I keep missing it, that game is not listed.

  24. eorns Says:

    Is there a way to find triple plays with the event finder or another tool?

  25. Raphy Says:

    @23 Thanks RobMer - I forgot the usual disclaimer.
    The search comes from the PI event finder which only includes games since 1950. The search is complete since 1974 and almost complete 1950-1973.

  26. Raphy Says:

    @24 The event finder lets you find all triple plays, but only mixed together with double plays. (If you select non-SO outs it will give you that option.) Unfortunately, except in unusual circumstances like this one, it is very difficult to isolate the triple plays.

  27. Michael Says:

    The 1966 game is the one that intrigued me. Men on 2nd and 3rd, so no force play options. From Retrosheet:

    Andy Etchebarren (BAL) is the batter with a ?-? count. He hits a ground ball fielded by the 1B (Tommy McCraw) who puts out the batter, Andy Etchebarren (OUT 1)
    1B throws to the SS (Jerry Adair) catching the runner from second, Paul Blair, in a rundown near third base. (OUT 2)
    SS throws home to the C (Johnny Romano), who relays to the P (Tommy John) who tags out the runner from third, Davey Johnson, on the baseline. (OUT 3)

    Wacky stuff.

  28. Tmckelv Says:


    Bruins are bears. Cubs are baby bears. I guess that nickname has gone away over the years.

    "Brooks" speaks for itself. The team moved from Brooklyn a few years later and the nickname presumably died then.

  29. nightfly Says:

    Sportswriters were really hard on their thesauruses once upon a time, a tradition that lives on in Doc Emrick's play-by-plays and Sports Center's catchphrase mania. So homeunrs couldn't just be homers, jacks, or dingers - they were also circuit clouts, four-baggers, round-trippers, big (or long) flies, taters, etc. etc. Reading some of those old stories is fantastic.

  30. Doug Says:

    @20 Brendan.

    Reading eorns account @9 of the game-ending double play in the Pirate-Met game, it appears no error was charged on the catcher's throw into right field because no advancement resulted from that throw, and because the back end of the intended 4-2-3 double play cannot be assumed.

    The advancement of the winning run home resulted from the subsequent throw back into the infield, but again this was not an error. Rather, it was simply an inadvisable fielder's choice to retire the runner caught between 2nd and 3rd.

  31. Phil Haberkorn in Indiana Says:

    Kds @15....thanks for clearing up the apparent origin of this "walk-off" phrase. I always thought of it in reference to the guy who got the winning hit, and the baserunner who scored the winning run, "walking off with the victory."
    It seems most, if not all references are to the offensive play that won the game, not the pitcher who lost it.
    But coming from Eck, it makes more sense that it's a reference to the losing pitcher walking off the field. Kind of lends a melancholy, empathetic aspect to the phrase - - like we're supposed to feel sorry for a guy who gives up a World Series game-winning Ruthian Clout to Kirk Gibson?
    Except I doubt Vin Scully was feelilng sorry at the moment.

    The first time I heard the phrase "Ruthian Clout," I wondered who Ruthy Ann was.

    Nightfly @29...home-run phrases can be fun. The Cubs announcers, Vince Lloyd and Lou Boudreau, called them bell-ringers, because somebody installed a bell for them to ring in the booth. Even if you weren't listening to a radio at the game, you could hear the bell all over the ballpark....and around Wrigleyfille, which was a neat way to signal the neighbors why the crowd was cheering. It served its purpose until "Holy Cow" came along.