This article was written by Ray Gonzalez
This article was published in the 1972 Baseball Research Journal
Analyzing all the triple plays in the major leagues since 1901.
Editor’s note: This data is current through the 1971 season.
The unassisted triple plays — seven in regular play and one in a world series — are so well publicized that we will not dwell on them in this brief summary. The assisted triple play, while not so fantastic, is still a spectacular event.
Since 1901, when the American and National Leagues began operating simultaneously, through 1971 there have been a total of 374 triple plays in the majors, 188 in the AL and 186 in the NL. Detroit leads all teams with 30, followed by the Cards and Pirates with 26. Players at all fielding positions have participated in triple killings, although, as might be expected, outfielders seldom have a chance to get into the act. For the Tigers, the number of players taking part in a triple play has ranged from one (Johnny Neun on Nay 31, 1927) to five (Gehringer, York, Kress, Higgins, and Tebbetts on July 18, 1940). In the latter case, the Tigers ganged up on the batter, Marv Owen, a former teammate who was playing with the Red Sox.
What player has taken part in the most triple plays as a fielder? One of the slickest fielding shortstops of them all, Owen “Donie” Bush, took part in nine, eight with the Tigers and his last one as a member of the Nats. See below:
|Date||Opponents||Fielders and Positions|
|May 4, 1910||Bill Purtell,Chi.||Simmons (1B)-Bush (SS)|
|Apr 24, 1911||Frank LaPorte,Bos.||Moriarty (35)-Bush (SB)|
|May 20, 1911||Harry Davis, Phil.||Ness (1B)-Bush (SS)|
|Sep 9, 1911||Lee Tannehill,Chi.||Drake (LF)-Bush (SB)-Gainor (1B)|
|Apr 16, 1912||Matt McIntyre,Chi.||O’Leary (2B)-Bush (SS)-Gainor (1B)|
|Aug 23, 1917||John McInnis,Phil.||Bush (SS)-Young (2B)-G. Burns (1B)|
|Aug 14, 1919||Muddy Ruel, N.Y.||Bush (SS)-Heilmann (1B)|
|May 18, 1921||Everett Scott, Bos.||Young (2B)-Bush (SS)|
|Sep 14, 1921||Geo. Sisler, StL.||Bush (SS)-Harris (2B)-Judge (1B)|
Bush also hit into one triple play, against the Browns on August 31, 1919. He thus ties George Sisler as the player participating in the most triple plays as a batter and as a fielder, 10. Sisler fielded in seven and batted into three.
More than 20 players have hit into triple plays at least twice, and Ty Cobb is numbered among them. As noted above, Sisler hit into three. The all-time leader (through 1971) is Brooks Robinson of the Baltimore Orioles, who hit into four triple plays in his career, as shown below:
|Date of Game||Opponents||Fielders and Positions||Inn|
|Jun 2, 1958||vs. Wash.||Bridges (SS)-Becquer (1B)||6|
|Sep 10, 1964||vs. Wash.||Kennedy (SS)-Blasingame(2B)-Cunningham (1B)-Brumley( C )||5|
|Aug 18, 1965||vs. Bos.||Maizone (3B)-Mantilla (2B)-Horton (1B)-Malzone (3B)||1|
|Aug 6, 1967||vs. Chi.||K. Boyer (3B)-Buford (2B)-McCraw (1B)||5|
- Related link: To view the SABR Triple Plays Database, click here.
This article originally appeared in the 1972 “Baseball Research Journal.”