Pitchers Stealing Home

This article was written by Leonard Gettelson

This article was published in the 1976 Baseball Research Journal


Pitchers seldom steal bases, and hardly ever steal home. In fact, no pitcher has stolen home since 1955. Considering that only National League pitchers bat for themselves, there may not be another. Of course, if John “Blue Moon” Odom pitches in the NL, there is always a chance. He has been used as a pinch runner more than 100 times and has a half dozen thefts to his credit (none of home).

The last steal of home by a hurler took place September 1, 1963. Curt Simmons of the Cardinals did the honors in the second inning of a game against the Phils. He dashed home from third on a squeeze play that aborted when Chris Short cut loose with a wild pitch. Simmons also collected a triple and two RBIs in a 7-3 victory.

Simmons’ was the last of 40 steals of home by pitchers since 1900. Frank Owen did it three times and several others, including Red Faber, did it twice. One of Faber’s performances was tarnished, however, and really should not be included.

That was on July 14, 1915 when the White Sox were leading the A’s 4-2 in the 4th inning. It was threatening rain and A’s hurler Joe Bush was trying to delay the game by various mound maneuvers. One of his stray tosses hit pitcher Faber, who was batting. Faber took first, and then, in an effort to get thrown out (to speed up the game), he continued running to second, third, and home. The A’s in turn made little serious effort to throw him out. In spite of this sorry exhibition, Faber was credited with three steals in one inning, including a steal of home. Ironically, his “steal” of home turned out to be the winning run as the threatened rain never materialized and the White Sox eventually won 6-4.

The Faber frolic should not be confused with the dazzling performance of Wild Bill Donovan of Detroit in a game against Cleveland on May 7, 1906. Donovan singled in the 5th inning, stole second and third (while Ty Cobb fanned), and then home on a double steal. He also hit a triple and won an 8-3 victory. Donovan was probably the best baserunner among pitchers since 1900.

Almost all of the pitcher steals of home were double steals where a teammate was advancing to second. There were only five individual thefts, including that of Simmons, which merit some mention.

On August 8, 1903, Joe McGinnity was pitching one of his famous doubleheader victories. He had beaten the Dodgers 6-1 in the opener. In the third inning of the second game he singled, went to second on a sacrifice, and when the throw was bad he went on to third, which he made on a disputed call by the umpire. While the Dodgers were arguing, Joe dashed home. Dodger hurler Henry Schmidt was so angry he threw the ball out of the park. For this he was banished from the game.

On April 20, 1946, Bucky Walters of the Reds was hooked up in a pitchers battle with Rip Sewell of the Pirates. In the 6th, Walters bunted safely. He moved to third on a sacrifice and a ground out, and with two strikes on Grady Hatton, Walters caught Sewell napping and stole home. It was the only run off Sewell who beat Bucky 2-1 before 28,000 at Pittsburgh.

Freddie Hutchinson of Detroit was a real hero on August 29, 1947 when he tripled against the Browns in the third, and when Ellis Kinder took a big windup, he hustled home in front of the throw. Hutch also singled and won the game 5-4.

On May 26, 1955, Don Newcombe of the Brooklyn Dodgers went into the 9th of a close game with the Pirates. With two runners on base, the big hurler, who was one of the best hitting pitchers in the game, hit a long fly ball which was misjudged by the outfielder and fell for a triple. Normally a pitcher would be gasping for breath at that point, but while El Roy Face was getting ready to deliver to the next batter, Newcombe lumbered home. Face, caught flat-footed, threw wildly, almost hitting Don, who slid in safely.

Here is a rundown on those pitchers who stole home in major league games since 1900.

 

National League Hurlers Stealing Home Since 1900

 

Date

 

Base Stealer and Club

Inn.

Opponent

July

15

1902

John Menefee, Chicago

5

Brooklyn

Aug.

8

1903 (2)

Joe McGinnity, N.Y.

3

Brooklyn

April

29

1904

Joe McGinnity, N.Y.

7

Boston

Sep.

12

1911 (2)

Christy Mathewson, N.Y.

3

Boston

May

27

1912

Leon Ames, New York

5

Brooklyn

June

28

1912

Christy Mathewson, N.Y.

4

Boston

July

22

1913

Slim Sallee, St. Louis

3

Brooklyn

April

19

1916

Sherry Smith, Brooklyn

3

New York

June

23

1916

Tom Seaton, Chicago

5

Cincinnati

July

26

1918

Robert Steele, N.Y.

7

St. Louis

Aug.

9

1919

Jim Vaughn, Chicago

8

New York

Sep.

3

1919

Dutch Ruether, Cm.

4

Chicago

July

27

1920

Jesse Barnes, New York

6

St. Louis

May

4

1921

Dutch Ruether, Brooklyn

5

New York

Sep.

23

1943

John Vander Meer, Cm.

5

New York

April

20

1946

Bucky Walters, Cm.

6

Pittsburgh

May

26

1955

Don Newcombe, Brooklyn

9

Pittsburgh

Sep.

1

1963

Curt Simmons, St. Louis

2

Philadel.

 

American League Hurlers Stealing Home

 

Date

 

Base Stealer and Club

Inn.

Opponent

Aug.

10

1901

Win Mercer, Washington

4

Philadel.

Aug.

2

1904

Frank Owen, Chicago

3

Washington

June

13

1905

Frank Owen, Chicago

8

Washington

Sep.

14

1905

Bill Donovan, Detroit

4

Cleveland

May

7

1906

Bill Donovan, Detroit

5

Cleveland

April

27

1908

Frank Owen, Chicago

9

St. Louis

June

13

1908

Ed Walsh, Chicago

7

New York

July

2

1909

Ed Walsh, Chicago

6

St. Louis

Aug.

30

1909

Eddie Plank, Phil.

2

Chicago

Aug.

27

1910 (1)

Jack Warhop, New York

6

Chicago

July

12

1912

Jack Warhop, New York

3

St. Louis

May

3

1915

Ray Fisher, New York

4

Philadel.

July

14

1915

Urban Faber, Chicago

4

Philadel.

May

22

1916

Ray Fisher, New York

6

St. Louis

Aug.

7

1916

Reb Russell, Chicago

3

Boston

Aug.

24

1918

Babe Ruth, Boston

2

St. Louis

July

8

1921

Dickie Kerr, Chicago

7

New York

April

23

1923

Urban Faber, Chicago

4

St. Louis

Aug.

15

1923

George Mogridge, Wash.

12

Chicago

Sep.

17

1944

Joe Haynes, Chicago

8

St. Louis

Aug.

29

1947

Fred Hutchinson, Detroit

3

St. Louis

June

2

1950 (2)

Harry Dorish, St. Louis

5

Washington

 

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