There’s certainly a lot of news to read today, with Randy Johnson’s retirement last night and with the Hall of Fame announcement only an hour or so away. It’s a big day, and I have no doubt that I’ll have something to say about it in the near future. In the meantime, though, I just wanted to share this little bit of research that I did yesterday. The findings are interesting in of themselves, I think, but I’m writing this more to comment on just how easy things are these days and how lucky we are to live in the future.
Wondering if any batter has ever made all 3 outs in an inning. Seems unlikely to even get 3 PA. Anyone? @wezen_ball? @robneyer?
I didn’t know the answer and I was at work (though it was lunchtime), so I wasn’t able to run a query on my Retrosheet database. It seemed like a question that was probably researched before, but a quick Google search didn’t turn anything up for me. And, like David said, it seemed unlikely that anyone would even have three plate appearances in an inning.
Then I remembered that The Sporting News has their 2008 Complete Baseball Record Book available online for free. It always did a great job of breaking records down by career, season, game, and, in some cases, inning. I pointed David to that book and told him to check out page 18, where the “most plate appearances in an inning” was listed. Seventeen names in ten games since 1893 were listed.
David did a little exploring of the Retrosheet site for those ten games and was able to conclusively dismiss 15 of the 17 names. The only two names he couldn’t dismiss were Marty Callaghan, who had three plate appearances in the fourth inning of a August 25, 1922, Cubs-Phillies game, and Ted Williams in a July 4, 1948, Red Sox-A’s game.
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I did a little more exploring on those two games and was able to find a few newspaper articles that helped me determine the answer. This article, for one, gives us enough of a recap to know that Teddy Ballgame never did it (as if that was ever really a possibility), while this one breaks down the inning in detail, showing us that Williams had two walks and an inning-ending fielder’s choice that inning, thus making him the only player to have three plate appearances in an inning without a hit. For the Callaghan game, I was able to find this article, which lists the large number of records set in that game (it was a doozy – records were set, among others, for total runs scored in a game, total hits in a game and total hits in an inning). It also clearly stated that Callaghan “smashed out two hits and struck out once.”
The answer to the question, then, is that no one has ever made all three outs in three separate plate appearances in one inning. Yes, it would’ve been a lot more fun to find that someone had, indeed, made all three outs in an inning, but that’s not the point. The point is just how easy this was for us to research and answer, even without the Retrosheet database installed on our computers. Even ten years ago, that probably wasn’t a question that could be answered in 15 minutes or an hour, but that’s all it took for us. What a great time to be a fan, huh? If you ever have a question like that you want answered, there is very little standing in your way these days. I love it!