Tuesday, May 15, 2012

ONE Unassisted Triple Play? Yawn

Not long ago the number one play on ESPN's Top Plays was a Sandy Springs six-year old who turned an unassisted triple play. The AJC also ran an article, along with the following video.

The most special thing about this play: it was caught on video. While only a dozen or so UTP's have been pulled off in the major leagues, I'm sure several occur every year in Little League.

I've often mentioned how Will pulled off an UTP when he was eight or nine. The very next inning he had an unassisted double play (and narrowly missed tripling off the runner on third). Then Will pulled off a SECOND unassisted triple play six years later.

The AJC opined how tough it would be for a six year-old to turn an UTP. I disagree. The older and wiser the players are, the harder an UTP becomes.

The story made me think. I had actually forgotten about a THIRD triple play Will had pulled off...during his second or third season at Mt. Paran, on the tiny Shetland Field. He was only six or seven. As was the custom, dads helped out by instructing on defense by standing in the outfield. On offense, other dads coached all three bases. I was one of those defensive dads.

Playing infield with the bases loaded, Will caught a grounder and stepped on second base to force a runner. Then chaos ensued. The confused base-runners didn't know whether to run or retreat. Will ran around like a kid in a candy store. First he ran to third and tagged out that runner. Then he ran back to second and tagged that runner (though he was already out). Then Will continued traversing the bases, chasing down the last runner between first and second. Unassisted triple play!

Only one problem: when the play began, there was already one out.

The six year-old Sandy Springs boy has been playing baseball for three years...ever since he was four. Many similar kids will burn out on sports by the time they reach middle school. But if he sticks with it, perhaps in another ten years he'll be fortunate enough to turn a second UTP.

Then he'd still be one unassisted triple play behind Will.

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