Velarde Turns Solo Triple Play

Athletics second baseman Randy Velarde tags out Tampa Bay Devil Rays' Gerald Williams (4) on delayed stolen base attempt AP


Oakland second baseman Randy Velarde turned the 10th unassisted triple play ever in the regular season and the first in almost six years against the New York Yankees on Monday.

With runners on first and second and a full count on Shane Spencer in the sixth inning, Yankees manager Joe Torre sent the runners in motion, and Spencer hit a line drive to Velarde's right.

"He made his mark today on a losing team," Torre said. "It was good managing. Start the runners and get something exciting to happen."

That it did.

Velarde caught the ball, tagged out Jorge Posada running from first base and stepped on second to complete the play on Tino Martinez, who had headed toward third.

"I had it played perfectly," Velarde said. "Both guys took off, it was a soft liner. I caught it. Tag, tag, that's it."

While baseball lists 10 unassisted triple plays in the regular season, there was also one in the postseason and perhaps the most famous ever.

Cleveland's Bill Wambsganss turned an unassisted triple play in the fifth game of the 1920 World Series against Brooklyn.

Velarde's error on Posada's grounder the batter before made the triple play possible. It's the second one he had turned, although the first came in a spring-training game on April 17, 1995, when he did it to Los Angeles while playing shortstop for the Yankees.

"The chances of that happening?" Velarde asked. "You have a better chance of being hit by lightning."

The last unassisted triple play in the majors came July 8, 1994, when Boston's John Valentin turned it against Seattle.

It is Oakland's seventh triple play and first since April 7, 1996, against Detroit. The Athletics had never turned an unassisted triple play in their history.

The Yankees last hit into a triple play on June 17, 1999, against Texas.


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