Monday, August 25, 2008

Ferdinand Garesche's Unassisted Triple Play

The object (of the Cyclone Club) was exercise and amusement, and the game put up furnished any quantity of both. The ball being pitched, slugging was the order of the day and the fielders were on the run all the time. Very rarely did anyone attempt the dangerous feat of taking a ball on the fly, but preferred to wait for the bound, equally effective if caught in retiring the batter but allowing the those on base to run and even score on the hit, provided home plate was crossed before the ball was in hand. Owing to the fact that fly balls were so rarely taken by the fielders, as soon as a ball was struck those on bases started to run.

This, on one occasion, allowed (Ferdinand) Garesche to make a play, which now would be almost impossible, namely, to put out, unassisted, three men on one batted ball. On this occasion, knowing where the batter was in the habit of knocking the ball, he as shortstop was playing down near second base, with a man on first and second. Catching the ball on the fly he ran across second base, which had been vacated for third, and succeeded in catching and touching the runner for first who had attempted to make a second, before he could regain first.
-St. Louis Republic, April 21, 1895


Richard Hershberger said...

What is interesting about that is that the play as described is the same as a modern unassisted triple play, but the writer thinks it "would now [1895] be almost impossible". Why is that? Or is this simply the observation that the play is extremely rare.

Jeff Kittel said...

It was certainly the perfect way to get an unassisted triple play. But I think the writer was specifically talking about the nature of base running then as compared to "now." He saw the play as a result of the runners constantly being on the move, running on every pitch, and therefore creating the environment in which the play could be made. What he leaves unsaid is that that environment no longer existed in the "modern" game. I'm not nearly smart enough to be able to compare base running in 1860 to base running in 1895 so I'm literally pulling Game of Inches off the shelf right now.

While Morris doesn't really talk about base running in general, he does cover the evolution of taking a lead off the base and the pick-off move. He quotes Connie Mack in 1905 talking about how taking a big lead was not a smart play because of the possibility of a pick-off. So maybe it's the development of the pick-off and the effect it had in curbing a more cavalier style of base running that the writer is talking about. It's not station to station baseball but a more "scientific" approach to base running then the put the ball in play and run like heck.