1994 | BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – One of the most unusual events in baseball occurs so quickly you could miss it if you’re not paying attention – the unassisted triple play. Boston Red Sox shortstop John Valentin turned one on this date in 1994. It was just the 10th unassisted triple in major league baseball history (there have been 5 since).
Here’s how it happened… in the top of the sixth inning at Boston’s Fenway Park, Seattle Mariner Mike Blowers singles. Keith Mitchell walks. It looks like the start of a big inning for the Mariners. Two on, nobody out. Mariner DH Mark Newfield is at bat. It’s a 1 – 1 count. Red Sox pitcher Dave Fleming fires, the runners go. 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 drama doesn’t end there. Guess who leads off the bottom of the 6th, hero John Valentin. He homers. The Red Sox come from behind to win 4-3.
Unassisted triple plays almost always unfold the same way; all 15 started with runners on first and second and the batter hitting a line drive with the runners going. Eight were hit to the shortstop. Five were hit to the second baseman. Two were hit to the first baseman. When it’s hit to the shortstop he grabs the line drive steps on second and tags the runner coming from first. When it’s hit to the second or first baseman they tag the runner coming from first and then step on second.
If you want to see an unassisted triple play, wait for runners on first and second, and no outs. If the batter hits a line drive don’t blink.