Don't Blink, You'll Miss It
JULY 8, 1994 – One of the most unusual events in baseball occurs so quickly, if you’re not paying attention you may miss it – the unassisted triple play. Boston Red Sox shortstop John Valentin turned one on this date in 1994 – just the thirteenth unassisted triple in major league baseball history.
In the top of the sixth inning at
Seattle’s Mike Blowers singles. Keith Mitchell walks. It looks like the start of a big inning for the Mariners. Mark Newfield is at bat. Red Sox pitcher Dave Fleming goes into the stretch and fires, the runners are going. Newfield hits a line shot right to shortstop Valentin, who steps on second to double off Blowers who was almost to third, and tags Mitchell who’s almost at second. Three outs, just like that with the ball never leaving Valentin’s hands. The triple play turned the momentum of the game.
Seattle had been ahead 2-0, but guess who led off the bottom of the 6th, hero John Valentin, who homers. The Red Sox proceed to score four runs that inning and go on to win 4-3.
Triple plays almost always unfold the same way; all thirteen started with runners on first and second and the batter hitting a line drive. Eight were hit to the shortstop, three were hit to the second baseman. Two were hit the first baseman who tagged the runner off first and ran and touched second before that runner could return.
So if you want to see a triple play, wait for runners on first and second, no outs and keep your eye on the shortstop.