Six-Year-Old Triples My High School Dream
In Major League Baseball history there have been a total of 15 unassisted triple plays.
Approximately a billion games, give or take, and only 15 unassisted triple plays.
One pitch and three outs.
Unassisted triple plays are slightly less rare than a porcupine convention on the moon hosted by Americans For Fewer Quills.
But only slightly.
As a ballplayer who always dreamed of one day pulling off an unassisted play in high school…
Yes, that's right-an unassisted single play.
Just one out, unassisted.
A dream that never came true.
Not on defense, anyway.
I made plenty of unassisted outs while batting but not while playing the field.
So you can imagine the blow to my sporting ego when I learned that six-year old Ross Bernath, of Atlanta, pulled off an unassisted triple play.
Six years old!!!
The video is all over YouTube and the kid even made ESPN's top ten plays. I might have made a top ten sporting “plagues” list, but never one of the top ten plays.
Playing shortstop at Chastain Park in Atlanta, Bernath caught a fly ball for one out, stepped on third to force the wandering runner, and then dove to tag out the runner trying to flee back to second base for the third out.
The bases were loaded. Nobody was out. And Ross Bernath ended the inning, without a run scoring, singlehanded.
Again, I did that plenty of times in high school, but when batting with runners in scoring position. If you wanted to end the inning without scoring runs, I was your man.
But on defense I encouraged rallies by the other team. I would have given my left cleat to pull off something so rarified as Ross Bernath's unassisted triple play.
What amazed me was the kid's quick thinking. I'd still be wondering what to do with the ball.
Asked by reporter, Jerry Carnes, from WXIA-TV if he ever in his life thought he'd pull off an unassisted triple play, young Mr. Bernath answered, “No, but I wanted to, by myself. I wanted to and finally it happened.”
The closest I ever came to an unassisted triple play was the license plate on the van my wife used to drive-WAMSGAMMS-an almost correct spelling of Bill Wambsganss, who pulled off an unassisted triple play for the Cleveland Indians in the 1920 World Series. My wife had answered that question correctly during a Trivial Pursuit game and decided to drive every day in a seat situated between that correct answer.
She was, quite obviously, in good hands.
That van is gone now, and with it my only hope of a Wambsganss moment.
I should be very jealous of Ross Bernath, but I feel a strange sense of peace, instead.
And a desire to be his agent in about 10 years.
Bryce Harper, watch out.