(1909) The most sensational play ever made? Every fan will give a different answer to this question ... Ed Walsh, the Chicago White Sox pitcher, thinks it was made at Detroit two years ago.
It happened in the game in which Walsh broke the Detroit hoodoo. The Tigers had beaten Walsh every time he faced them. They regarded him as their lawful prey. The game was played in Detroit, and Mullin, who started this season with eleven straight victories for the Tigers, was slated to pitch against Walsh.
Early in the contest George Davis, the veteran shortstop of the Chicago club, secured the only hit made off Mullin and it was enough to win the game. The ball, driven down the first base line into right field, struck a fire hose lying in the grass and bounded into the bleachers for a home run. After that Mullin was invincible.
Toward the end of the game, Detroit opened with the usual rally. Rossman, Detroit's first baseman, leading off in the inning, smashed the ball against the fence for a clean triple. "Dutch" Schaefer drew a base on balls. Schmidt, next at bat, gave the hit-and-run sign and, with both runners in motion, hit a hard bounder down toward third base where Tannehill of Chicago was playing. Tannehill made a perfect scoop and threw the ball to the plate twenty feet ahead of Rossman, who seeing that he was caught, doubled back on the line, hoping to dodge the tag long enough to allow Schaefer to reach third.
Sullivan raced down the line with the ball, driving Rossman before him. Rossman slipped and fell close to third base and just as Sullivan tagged him for the first out, Schaefer slid to third. In the meantime, Schmidt, a slow runner because of an injury to his ankle, had rounded first base and was well on his way to second. Sullivan straightened up and whipped the ball to Rohe who was covering second base and calling for the throw.
As Schmidt slid, Rohe's arm came down with a thump and Schmidt made the second out. The instant Sullivan threw the ball, Schaefer was on his feet and dashing home from third base. The plate had been left unprotected; Sullivan was down near third base. Walsh, the pitcher, yelled for the ball and raced Schaefer to the rubber, closely followed by George Davis. The two runners collided in front of the plate.
Walsh was stunned and Schaefer was thrown ten feet from the plate, alighting on his shoulders. Davis, who arrived about the same time, took the throw and dropped the ball on the struggling Tiger, completing the third out and the most sensational triple play ever made in big leagues.
George Davis, who is a scientist, says that it was not a clean triple, but every man at the ball park went home talking about it in whispers. It is the melodrama of the game which counts in the penciled statement of the autocrat of the box office.
-- Charles E. Van Loan
"Baseball as the Bleachers Like It"
Baseball: A Literary Anthology
Baseball: A Literary Anthology, Nicholas Dawidoff (ed.)
Copyright 2002 by Literary Classics of the United States
Published by The Library of America (New York), 2002
available at AMAZON