Friday, May 22, 2015

May 22, 1920, The Cardinals Turn The Only 9-2-3 Triple Play In Baseball History

     On May 22, 1920, the only 9-2-3 triple play in the history of Major League Baseball highlighted a 3-2 Cardinals victory over the New York Giants at Robison Field in St. Louis. The New Yorkers nearly escaped with a victory of their own as they took a 2-0 lead into the ninth before it all disappeared, as the Cardinals plated two runs to send it to extras. That simply set the stage for a triple play that should not be forgotten.

     The tenth inning began with New York's George Burns hit one down the third baseline, where Milt Stock came up firing wildly toward first. Stock's wild throw ended up with an error on the scorecard and Burns standing on third base; 90 feet away from a lead. Ross Youngs followed Burns with a walk and just like that it looked like the Redbirds ninth inning rally may have been for nothing.

     No outs, a man on first and third, the Cardinals would need a bit of magic to get out of it. Then magic happened. Joe Schultz, who had come into pinch hit for the pitcher in the ninth, not only helped the Cardinals rally with an RBI, he then made the play of the day in right field, as he made what was described as a nearly impossible play by the Sporting News on an Art Fletcher line drive, then came up firing to the dish to gun down Burns who was trying to score from third. Youngs was off and running, thinking that there was no way Shultz would make the play, which led to him being gunned down at first by the Cardinals catcher Verne Clemons to complete the triple killing. With the electricity still flowing through the St. Louis air, the Birds generated a run for a walk off win.

     The triple play turned on that day in 1920 was the 10th in franchise history. To date, the club has turned 38 triple plays, which is a testament to how rare such a play is when one considers that the club has played in more than 20,000 games since they first stepped on the diamond in 1882. That 9-2-3 triple play in 1920 had to be a true beauty.

I would like to extend thanks to the people at the Society of American Baseball Research for putting together an absolutely great database of all the triple plays in major league history. It was very big help when it came to the research into this game and more. I am a member of SABR and would urge anyone interested in baseball history to look into the benefits of joining

Here is a link to the triple play database as well:

Check out the box score here:

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