Triple Plays & Walk-off Home Runs (or, Why You Should Go to the Ballpark)

It’s been a long summer for the Brewers. These last two months have been especially disappointing, considering their losing record in August despite facing one of the easiest stretches of baseball in all of the majors. It’s easy to get disheartened when you see a team with such talent and promise fail to pull it together like the Brewers have this year.

But that doesn’t mean you stop going to the games. None of us are baseball fans just because our teams are successful. There’s much more to the game than that, and there’s no better way to experience it all than by going to the ballpark. Even when your team is all-but-mathematically-eliminated, the game is still important. The crowd still hangs on every pitch, and the excitement of the victory is still riveting. Of course, we all want every game to be meaningful, but that’s not going to happen every year. The best we can do is enjoy each game as it comes, and there’s no better way to do that than at the ballpark.

Which brings me to the Brewers-Giants game at Miller Park yesterday that I was lucky enough to have attended. The game had much less meaning, in terms of playoff implications, than I expected when I chose the game as part of my season-ticket package at the start of the season, but that doesn’t mean it was any less enjoyable or exciting. Especially when the Brewers turned a triple play in the sixth inning (the first one I had ever witnessed) or when Prince Fielder hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 12th (and just watch that celebration!). I mean, really, how can you ask for much more than that, even when the playoffs are out of your reach?

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It did get me thinking, though, about triple-plays and walk-offs. After all, these last few weeks here at Wezen-Ball seem to have been focused specifically on baseball’s feats and walk-off victories. So I looked it up. Today’s game was the 25th time, in the Retrosheet-era, that a triple-play was turned in a game that was later won in walk-off fashion. The last game, before today, was in 2007, when Troy Tulowitzki turned an unassisted triple-play agains the Braves. The Rockies went on to win that game in the bottom of the 11th, when Matt Holliday hit a two-run walk-off home run. Pretty similar to today’s Brewers game, actually (minus the unassisted triple play, of course).

The 5-4-3 triple play this afternoon was the first that the Brewers had turned in 10 years, when they tripled up the Cubs on Opening Day 1999. Ten years seemed like a long time for a club to have gone between triple plays, so I checked out this fantastic list kept by the SABR folks. It turns out that, while 10 years is a long time, it’s nowhere near the longest. The list of all thirty ball clubs and their most recent triple play is below. Take a look at where the Yankees and Blue Jays sit!

Last Triple Play, by Franchise
Franchise Year
New York (AL) 1968
Toronto 1979
Boston 1994
Seattle 1995
Cincinnati 1995
Chicago (NL) 1997
San Diego 1997
Anaheim 1997
Los Angeles (NL) 1998
Oakland 2000
Baltimore 2000
Detroit 2001
New York (NL) 2002
Florida 2002
Montreal/Washington 2002
Atlanta 2004
Houston 2004
St. Louis 2005
Minnesota 2006
Kansas City 2006
Tampa Bay 2006
Chicago (AL) 2006
Colorado 2007
Cleveland 2008
San Francisco 2008
Milwaukee 2009 (1999)
Pittsburgh 2009 (1993)
Arizona 2009 (2000)
Texas 2009 (2002)
Philadelphia 2009 (2007)

For the five teams that accomplished the feat this year, I also included the last year that they had turned it before 2009. I find it absolutely amazing, though, that it’s been over 40 years since the Yankees have turned a triple play. It just seems impossible. And the Blue Jays – 1979 was only their third year of existence.

It just goes to show you, then, that anything can happen in any game at a major league baseball stadium. And that, no matter how disappointed or disheartened you are by your team, it’s never worth skipping out on going to the ballpark. Sure, you’re unlikely to see either a triple play or a walk-off home run, but there’s always something worth seeing. Plus, it’s just plain fun.

Larry Granillo

About Larry Granillo

Larry Granillo has been writing Wezen Ball since 2008 and has dealt with such touchy topics as Charlie Brown's baseball stats and Ferris Bueller's day off. In 2010, he got the bright idea to time every home run trot in baseball; he has been missing ever since.

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