Mickey Morandini’s Unassisted Triple Play

A newspaper described this triple play on September 20, 1992 like this:

Mickey Morandini became the ninth major leaguer to turn an unassisted triple play Sunday against the Pirates in the sixth inning with Andy Van Slyke on second, Barry Bonds on first and Jeff King at the plate.

”I knew they’d be running,” Morandini said [the count was 3-2, with Curt Schilling pitching]. ”And I did think, hey, if we can get a line drive somewhere, we’ve got a chance at a triple play.
”When (King) hit it, I dove and it stuck in my glove. I tramped on second, and Bonds was right there, so I tagged him.
”It all happened so fast, I didn’t have time to think about it until I got in the dugout.”
It was the first unassisted triple play in the majors since shortstop Ron Hansen of the Washington Senators did it at Cleveland July 30, 1968, and the first in the NL since shortstop Jimmy Cooney of the Chicago Cubs did it at Pittsburgh May 30, 1927.

Pirates manager Jim Leyland said: “I’m a real smart guy. I managed us right into a triple play. But that’s the great thing about baseball: You never know what’s going to happen.”
After the play, Morandini dropped the ball on the mound: ”That was kind of stupid. I don’t know where it is now. It was probably fouled into the stands. Maybe I’ll just go into the equipment bag and get one and say that’s it.”

The Pirates still won, 3-2, in a 13-inning marathon that wound up with Jeff King, of course, getting a game-winning single.

Morandini’s play was the first of a rash of six unassisted triple plays from 1992 through 2008: for what it’s worth, a similar streak produced six unassisted triple plays in the 1920s. There’ve been only two others in MLB history. Check out the list of all 14 here.

By the way, if you’re curious: In 1927, on two straight weekend days in late May, Cubs shortstop Jimmy Cooney and Detroit Tigers first baseman Johnny Neun turned unassisted triple plays. (Cooney had been on second base for another unassisted triple play, by Pirates shortstop Glenn Wright in 1925.) Sixty years later, Sports Illustrated set up a phone talk between Cooney and Neun: they didn’t talk very much about their triple plays, but still, it’s kind of interesting reading.

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