Randy Velarde (Trading Card DB)

May 29, 2000: Randy Velarde’s unassisted triple play and homer not enough as A’s lose to Yankees

This article was written by Bill Marston

Randy Velarde (Trading Card DB)“Ho-hum” was Randy Velarde’s description of an unassisted triple play he turned in a spring-training game in 1995 while playing shortstop for the New York Yankees. “[The ball] isn’t something the Hall of Fame will ask for,” he said.1 A rare play in the Grapefruit League didn’t mean much to Velarde, who thought, “[even] 5-for-5 … ain’t going to mean anything down here.”2

Five years later, on May 29, 2000, playing second base for the Oakland Athletics against his former team, the 37-year-old Velarde turned another unassisted triple play. “It was like déjà vu,” he said, but this time it was a regular-season game, making the ball Hall of Fame-worthy.3 Velarde said Cooperstown could have his glove as well, with one stipulation. “They better wait until I break in a new one. But it would be an honor.”4

The Yankees were hosting the Athletics on Memorial Day afternoon, the first game of a three-game series. Velarde, who had signed with the California Angels as a free agent in November 1995, came to the A’s along with that day’s starting pitcher, 32-year-old Omar Olivares, in a July 1999 trade.5

After the 1999 season, when he finished fourth in the American League with 200 hits, Velarde signed a two-year, $6 million contract to stay with the A’s,6 but a knee injury the last weekend of spring training caused him to miss the first 31 games of the 2000 season. He returned to the everyday lineup at second base on May 8, stabilizing the defense and adding a productive bat to the lineup.7

Winners of three of the past four World Series, the Yankees started the day one game behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East Division after dropping two of three to the Red Sox over the weekend. The A’s were in last place but only 1½ games behind the first-place Seattle Mariners in the tightly-packed AL West.

During pregame festivities, the Yankees received their 1999 World Series championship rings in front of 41,284 fans. Manager Joe Torre called the pregame ceremony “pretty emotional”; the rings were handed out by Yogi Berra, who earned 10 of them in his 18 years playing for the Yankees.8

Andy Pettitte, with a record of 3-2 and a 4.70 ERA, was starting for the Yankees. Just shy of his 28th birthday, he was in his sixth season with New York. Pettitte was an All-Star in 1996 when he was a 21-game winner and second in the Cy Young Award voting,9 but his win total had dropped each of the next three years.10 It was his first matchup with the A’s since he beat them early in the 1998 season.

Olivares was facing the Yankees for the first time in 2000 after beating them three times the previous season.11 He was currently 3-5 with a 5.80 ERA with Oakland his seventh major-league club in 11 big-league seasons.12

In the first inning, Pettitte induced two groundouts, then gave up a book-rule double to Oakland designated hitter Jason Giambi,13 the ball bouncing over the wall in deep center. Giambi was stranded as Olmedo Saenz was retired on the third groundout of the inning. Pettitte continued to get Oakland to hit the ball on the ground; eight of the A’s first 10 batters grounded out.

Olivares was pitching effectively as well, allowing only one baserunner – a walk to Jorge Posada – the first time through the order.

With two outs in the third, Yankees second baseman and leadoff hitter Chuck Knoblauch singled to right. Derek Jeter followed with a double on a hard-hit grounder into the left-field corner. Knoblauch scored, giving the Yankees a 1-0 lead.

The A’s threatened to draw even in the fourth, when Velarde led off with a walk and Saenz reached on a one-out hit-by-pitch, but Pettitte retired Ben Grieve and Miguel Tejada to get out of the inning.

With one out in the bottom of the fourth, Tino Martinez scorched a ball to center field. Terrence Long turned the wrong way as he raced back but recovered and caught the ball in the webbing of his glove, holding on despite falling hard on his shoulder on the warning track. Long, headed for a runner-up AL Rookie of the Year finish,14 was shaken up but stayed in the game.

Pettitte continued to dominate the Oakland hitters, even though he didn’t record his first strikeout until he fanned Sal Fasano to end the fifth inning. When Giambi was caught looking to end the sixth, Pettitte had retired eight batters in a row.

Olivares also was pitching well, keeping the A’s close. He gave up his third hit of the game in the fifth on a one-out line drive to center by Scott Brosius. A’s shortstop Miguel Tejada followed by robbing Knoblauch of a hit on a play deep in the hole. His throw to Velarde retired Brosius at second. Jeter grounded into another force to end the inning.

New York did increase its lead after a leadoff walk to Paul O’Neill in the sixth. On a two-strike pitch, Bernie Williams tripled off the right-center-field wall, just out of the reach of a leaping Matt Stairs, scoring O’Neill.

Olivares also got ahead of Martinez 0-and-2 but then hit him. With runners at the corners and a full count on Posada, Torre had Martinez running from first. Posada’s grounder to second got to Velarde just after Martinez ran in front of him. The ball bounced out of Velarde’s glove. Trying to corral the ball barehanded, he fumbled it as Williams scored from third, making it 3-0.

The error put runners on first and second with no outs. With a full count on Yankees DH Shane Spencer, Torre once again started the runners on the payoff pitch.15

This time the result was not in the Yankees’ favor. Spencer hit a soft liner right at Velarde, who caught it, tagged Posada, and then stepped on second to retire Martinez.16 Having completed the 11th unassisted triple play in major-league history,17 and the first one since July 8, 1994, when John Valentin turned one for Boston, Velarde started to run off the field before turning back and tossing the Hall of Fame-bound ball to second-base umpire Rick Reed.18

After the game Velarde described his play modestly, “Both guys took off, it was a soft liner. I caught it. Tag, tag, that’s it.”19

Olivares said he knew as soon as the ball was hit that it was a triple play and headed to the dugout.20 He retired the next five Yankees, but with two outs in the bottom of the eighth, Williams made it 4-0 with a solo homer to right field.

Pettitte had all the runs he needed. “I wanted to go out and just get groundballs,” he said later.21 Clean seventh and eighth innings gave him six one-two-three innings in the game.

Working on a one-hitter, Pettitte was allowed by Torre to start the ninth despite having thrown 101 pitches and facing the top of the order. Pettitte retired his 15th consecutive batter when Long grounded out to Martinez at first base unassisted.

Velarde, who entered the game with a .462 lifetime batting average against Pettitte,22 was 0-for-2 with a walk as he batted for the first time since turning his triple play. On a 1-and-1 pitch, Velarde homered to left center.23 His fourth homer of the season ended Pettitte’s bid for his second career shutout.

Yankees closer Mariano Rivera had begun to warm up in the eighth inning, but Torre stuck with Pettitte. He recorded his 17th groundout of the game when Giambi grounded to first, and he closed out his first complete game of the season when Saenz flied to center, giving the Yankees a 4-1 victory.

The Yankees and A’s each won their respective divisions and met in the Division Series with New York prevailing three games to two. Pettitte started two of the games, earning the win in Game Two. Velarde had five hits in the series and was 3-for-5 in Game Five.

Pettitte also started two games in the World Series.24 He had no-decisions in both games. The Yankees won their third consecutive championship, beating the New York Mets in five games.25

Velarde finished the 2000 season with a .278 batting average and 12 home runs. That winter he was traded to the Texas Rangers.26 He hit .297 in 78 games with Texas before being traded back to the Yankees at the end of August.27

Velarde played in 15 games down the stretch for New York and had four more appearances in the postseason, including a start at first base in Game Two of the 2001 World Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He went hitless. The Yankees lost the series in seven games.

Oakland signed Velarde as a free agent before the 2002 season, and he finished his 16-year career appearing in 56 games with the A’s. He retired with a batting average of .276, 100 home runs, and one regular-season unassisted triple play that was anything but “ho-hum.”




This article was fact-checked by Kevin Larkin and copy-edited by Len Levin. The author appreciates the guidance and support received from John Fredland.



In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author consulted Baseball-Reference.com and Retrosheet.org for pertinent information, including the play-by-play. A television broadcast of the game on ESPN2 posted on YouTube was used for descriptions and accounts of the game.






1 Jack O’Connell, “No Short Order for Showalter,” Hartford Courant, April 18, 1995.

2 O’Connell.

3 Mark Saxon, “A’s Fall Despite Triple Play,” Oakland Tribune, May 30, 2000: Sports1.

4 Associated Press, “Velarde’s Unassisted Triple Play Can’t Stop New York,” Sandusky (Ohio) Register, May 30, 2000: 14.

5 Velarde and Olivares came to the A’s in exchange for Elvin Nina, Jeff DaVanon, and Nathan Haynes on July 29, 1999. The Angels were rebranded as the Anaheim Angels for the 1997 season.

6 Baseball-Reference credits Velarde with 7.0 Wins Above Replacement for 1999, fifth-highest among all American Leaguers.

7 Brian Murphy, “A’s Spell Pleasure ‘Velarde,’” San Francisco Examiner, May 8, 2020: B1.

8 “Pettitte Twirls Two-Hitter for Yanks,” ESPN.com, May 29, 2000, https://www.espn.com/mlb/2000/20000529/recap/oaknyy.html.

9 Pat Hentgen of the Toronto Blue Jays won the 1996 Cy Young Award in the American League by 6 points over Pettitte, 110 to 104.

10 Pettitte’s win totals from 1997 to 1999 were 18, 16, and 14.

11 Olivares had a record of 3-1 against the Yankees in 1999, which included a 2-0 mark after his trade to Oakland.

12 Olivares debuted with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1990. He also pitched for Colorado, Philadelphia, Detroit, Seattle, and Anaheim before joining the A’s. He finished his career with Pittsburgh in 2001.

13 First baseman Giambi was in the A’s lineup as the designated hitter, according to Jon Miller on the ESPN broadcast, because he was having hamstring issues.

14 Seattle’s Kazuhiro Sasaki was voted AL Rookie of the Year in 2000.

15 Throughout Spencer’s at-bat, ESPN announcers Miller and Joe Morgan had a back-and-forth exchange questioning whether Torre made a good decision in having Martinez run on the pitch. They gave arguments on both sides, but Morgan was of the opinion that it was not the right thing to do even though it worked out well for the Yankees. The discussion continued right up until the runners were moving on the 3-and-2 pitch to Spencer. “They’re running again,” Miller announced. After the triple play, Morgan jokingly added, “Told you not to run those guys.”

16 Through the 2022 season there have been 13 unassisted triple plays turned by a middle infielder. This is the only one in which the runner from first was tagged out before the fielder stepped on second base.

17 Major League Baseball does not recognize the triple play that occurred on May 8, 1878, as unassisted. Major League Baseball official historian John Thorn believes Paul Hines of the Providence Grays should be credited with an unassisted triple play. Including the Hines triple play, Velarde’s was the 12th unassisted triple play in the majors.

18 Reed was also on the umpiring crew that worked the game when Philadelphia second baseman Eric Bruntlett turned an unassisted triple play on August 23, 2009. Bruntlett’s play ended the game as the Phillies defeated the New York Mets. Reed was umpiring at first base in that game when he became the seventh umpire to be on the field for two unassisted triple plays.

19 Associated Press, “‘Tag, Tag, That’s It,’” Syracuse Post, May 30, 2000: 39.

20 Josh Dubow, “Velarde Turns Solo Triple Play,” Greensboro (North Carolina) News and Report, May 29, 2000, https://greensboro.com/velarde-turns-solo-triple-play/article_7d2bf6e3-40fc-57ac-bf9a-76ca4b82197e.html.

21 Associated Press, “Pettitte Sparkles With Two-Hitter,” Syracuse Post, May 30, 2000: 38.

22 This statistic was displayed on a graphic during the ESPN television broadcast.

23 Velarde became the third player to homer in his next at-bat after turning an unassisted triple play. On July 19, 1909, Cleveland’s Neal Ball homered with two outs in the bottom of the second inning after turning an unassisted triple play in the top of the inning. On July 8, 1994, after turning an unassisted triple play in the top of the sixth inning, Valentin led off the bottom of the inning for the Red Sox with a home run.

24 In the 2000 World Series, Pettitte started Games One and Five. He had a no-decision in both Yankees wins.

25 In 1998 the Yankees swept the San Diego Padres, and in 1999 they swept the Atlanta Braves.

26 Velarde was traded to the Rangers for Ryan Cullen and Aaron Harang.

27 On August 31, 2001, Velarde was traded to the Yankees for players to be named later. The trade was completed when the Yankees sent Randy Flores and Rosman Garcia to the Rangers in October.

Additional Stats

New York Yankees 4
Oakland Athletics 1

Yankee Stadium
New York, NY


Box Score + PBP: 

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