Thursday, September 11, 2008

John Shelby: I Am Your Density

On Monday, I took this picture of Orioles' first base coach John Shelby at Fenway Park. Maybe it was because he was a player when I was little. Maybe it was because those Orioles' numbers and individually-sewn letters are just so bright and chunky. Maybe it was because he was the closest person on the field to me.

Then last night I start trying to find a player who made outs that involved all nine defensive positions in one game, as described here. Today I was only half-heartedly checking some game logs, looking for the elusive "niner," when I came across this 22-inning Dodgers-Astros game from June 3rd, 1989. John Shelby: 0 for 10 with two Ks. "How cool (relatively to world events) would it be if Shelby did it," I thought, remembering back to the picture. The strikeouts take care of the catcher's putouts. Then I started going through his at bats: A flyout to left. A third to second fielder's choice. A flyout to right. Already that's 2, 4, 5, 7, and 9, with several at bats left. It's getting exciting! In the 12th, he grounds out to short, taking care of 3 and 6. (Assists and putouts count, if I didn't make that clear before.) He only needs a 1 and an 8 (pitcher and center field). In the 15th he strikes out. In the 17th he again grounds to short. Still waiting on 1 and 8. In the 20th, he flies to center! Only needs to involve the pitcher now. Last at bat, in the 22nd...he flies to center again. And a nation falls silent. The Astros won in in the bottom half, leaving Shelby one position short of the holy grail.

But wait! I check through all his at bats again. In the third inning, with Shelby on second after reaching on the fielder's choice and stealing a base, we see:

"Knepper threw a wild pitch [Murray scored, Shelby out at home (catcher to pitcher)]"

Shelby tried to score from second on a wild pitch! And was put out! By the pitcher! Shelby made outs which involved all nine positions in one game.

Little did I know this when I took the picture.

[Note: Joy of Sox points out that the fielder's choice put someone else out, not Shelby. But Shelby hit the ball,an out was made, and the third and second basemen were involved in the play. I'm counting it. I wouldn't count it if Shelby was put out on the basepaths on someone else's batted ball--but the wild pitch counts because it was his own out, with no ball put in play by another hitter. Plus, come on, how long is it gonna take me to find another guy who did this? Who I took a picture of a few days earlier??]

Jere, is a strikeout not considered a pitchers putout? I could look it up but I won't. By the way, you mentioned Jeffrey Maier earlier so I looked him up on Wiki. Did you know that he played collegiate ball and was "rumored" to have been close to being drafted by the Orioles? Ironic. Also, appearantly he was given seats at the toilet behind homeplate for a game in that series after his interference as well as the key to the city by Giuliani. That would be like the person who won the marathon at the Athens Olympics praising the crazed attacker who grabed the guy who was going to win.
Catcher gets the putout on a K. Unless the third strike is dropped, then it's scored like any other play. Catcher gets assist and first baseman gets a putout.

There was also a play around 1993 where a kid did the same thing as Maier, on a ball hit by Mattingly--he was also treated like a hero, given the game ball, etc. I have it on tape somewhere.

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Location: Rhode Island, United States