In honor of Jackie Robinson Day (April 15), we’re visiting the best of baseball’s ballsiest play: stealing home.
(Photo: Bettmann / Corbis)
Just a few days into his Major League career, the heavily hyped Bryce Harper got a “Welcome to the Bigs” gift from Cole Hamels in the form of a beanball directly between the shoulder blades. Harper, not usually one to play the fool, advanced to third and then took off while Hamels checked the runner at first, stealing the plate. How about that for instant karma?
While Harper’s steal is a great story, there’s nothing like a nice clean steal of home, as Jonathan Villar demonstrates here. This is nothing but pure speed and the element of surprise, and Villar is not even close to being tagged out. Risking a bases-loaded situation with two outs early in the game, the announcer calls it “excitement,” but it seems to us more like intestinal fortitude.
Speaking of intestinal fortitude, Zach Davis of Texas Tech took home with two outs in the bottom of the ninth against their rival, Texas. The game went into extra innings, but the party was cut short when Texas went on to win by three runs. We’ll always have the ninth though, Tech.
This is the second entry on this list that has the Orioles on the ass-end of it, only this time with much bigger stakes. Game three of the 1997 ALCS was decided on this walk-off steal of home amidst confusion on whether or not the ball was foul tipped. It seemed that the Indians had the squeeze on, but when the ball – which the umpire ruled was not touched by the batter – dribbled past the catcher, Marquis Grissom continued home from third and reached easily to win the game (and eventually the series). Their extra innings luck ran out in the next series, when they were downed by the miracle Marlins in the 11th inning of game seven.
Taking home plate in game one of the 1955 World Series was a point of contention in the series. Even though the Yankees went on to win that game behind Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra maintained for years that he tagged Robinson out at the plate. The video seems to back that claim up, but without super-clear HD JoeBuckVision or whatever FOX is pimping these days, we can’t be sure.
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