The Unassisted Triple Play and Catchers
An unassisted triple play is one of the rarest events in all of baseball.
It involves a single player collecting all three outs all by himself without ever letting go of the ball.
Triple Plays in the Big Leagues
"Regular" triple plays in baseball are rare enough.
As of the publication date, there have been just 727 instances of a triple play occurring in professional baseball since 1876, according to the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).
That's an average of just about five triple plays per big league season!
Unassisted triple plays on the other hand are incredibly more rare than a normal triple play.
In fact, unassisted triple plays are more rare than perfect games.
Don't believe me?
There have been only 15 unassisted triple plays in MLB history, compared with 23 perfect games.
All unassisted triple plays that have occurred in the history of the major leagues have been accomplished by an infielder.
Specifically, eight shortstops (53.3% of total), five second baseman (33.3% of total) and two first baseman (13.3% of total) are responsible for the 15 MLB unassisted triple plays.
But what about catchers? Has a catcher ever turned an unassisted triple play?
No, not in the big leagues (not yet anyway). But it has occurred before in organized ball.
The Only Recorded Unassisted Triple Play by a Catcher
The date was April 27, 1976 and the location was Agawam Ball Park near Springfield, Massachusetts. It was a high school baseball game between the Agawam High Brownies and the Ludlow High Lions.
According to the Springfield, MA Daily News account of the play, there was a runner on second and third when a Ludlow batter tried to lay down a suicide squeeze bunt.
However, the squeeze didn't go according to plan. The bunt popped up weakly and Agawam High's catcher, Brian Rheault, caught it (out #1).
Ludlow's runner that was on third had already committed to home, as is the case on a suicide squeeze play. Rheault tagged him out (out #2).
The runner that was on second then tried to make it to third base, since Agawam's third baseman had charged in on the play.
As there was no one covering the bag, Rheault ran to third and tagged the runner out just before the runner made it to the base (out #3).
According to the sources I've found, this remains the only known unassisted triple play ever made by a catcher in organized baseball, across any level of the game.
This play sounds incredibly cool and leaves me wishing there was a video of it, somewhere, as unlikely as that is.
My only hope is that it will one day happen on a bigger stage, and captured on film.
Who knows? Maybe a catcher can one day became the MLB's 16th player to turn an unassisted triple play!
Thanks for Reading
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- Springfield Daily News
- Chuck Rosciam