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Stories, Quotes and Player Profiles
Page 23
"Baseball is more than a game to me, it's a religion." -- William J. Klem (umpire)
Baserunning blunders are common. Touching all bases is one of baseball's primary rules, but mishaps occur on the basepaths.
....Yankee slugger Lou Gehrig, trotting around the bases after hitting the ball over the fence, lost the 1931 home run crown when teammate Lyn Lary -- on base at the time -- proceeded from third base to the dugout rather than completing the circuit to home plate. Gehrig, who didn't see the play, was ruled out for passing Lary and was credited with a triple, as he had only touched three bases safely. That year, Gehrig and Babe Ruth each hit 46 home runs to share the home run title.
Hank Aaron was involved in the strange ending of Harvey Haddix's twelve-inning perfect game, which he pitched for Pittsburgh against Milwaukee in May 1959.
In the last of the thirteenth, Felix Mantilla was safe on an error by Don Hoak (ending the perfect game). Eddie Mathews sacrificed him to second and Aaron was intentionally walked to set up a potential inning-ending double play. But Joe Adcock foiled the strategy by slamming the ball over the fence, an apparent three-run homer and the only hit off hard-luck Haddix.
Mantilla scored, but Aaron, rounding second, saw the ball disappear over the wall and was so stunned that he forgot to continue his circuit of the basepaths. He headed directly for the dugout, and Adcock, making a grand home run trot, was ruled out when he passed the spot where Aaron had made his departure. Instead of a 3-0 victory, the Braves wound up 1-0 winners -- and Adcock had a double instead of a home run.
A strange footnote to the game was the pitching of Lew Burdette, who yielded twelve hits but no runs in thirteen innings to win. Haddix gave up one and lost.
Baserunners must stay alert at all times. On August 15, 1926, Babe Herman tripled into a double-play when he didn't.
In the seventh inning, with one out and the bases loaded, Herman slammed a pitch toward the right field fence. The ball might have been caught -- and the runners had to wait and see if it would be -- but Herman put his head down and ran.                                                                                                                                
The Dodger runner scored from third, but pitcher Dazzy Vance, running from second, mysteriously slowed down as he rounded third on his way home. Chick Fewster, running from first, had caught up to Vance but knew he couldn't pass him on the basepaths.
Herman, closing in on Fewster and Vance, looked like he would pass both runners. Coach Mickey O'Neil yelled "Back! Back!" to Herman, but Vance -- not used to running the bases -- answered the cry. He turned back toward third and slid in from the home-plate side. Herman slid in from the second base side. Fewster stood stock still on the base and watched.
Third baseman Eddie Taylor grabbed the ball and tagged all three runners. The umpire ruled Vance entitled to the bag but called Fewster and Herman out, ending the inning.
Brooklyn manager Wilbert Robinson was beside himself. But it wasn't as bad as the time Herman stole second while runners were at second and third.
Gary Geiger of the Red Sox suffered an embarassing moment in 1961 when he hit a run-scoring triple in the bottom of the eleventh inning against the California Angels. Thinking his hit had won the game, Geiger headed for the clubhouse. An Angel infielder tagged him for the first out of the inning. Geiger's hit had actually tied the game and he would have been on third with nobody out.
-- Dan Schlossberg
The Baseball Almanac
IMAGE: Babe Herman at bat
 The Baseball Almanac, Dan Schlossberg
Copyright 2002 by Dan Schlossberg
Published by Triumph Books (Chicago), 2002

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