When Mike Blowers's mother, Hannelore Ramos, found out that her
son had hit for the cycle two weeks ago, the first thing she did
was call a handful of neighbors in Spanaway, Wash., to do a
little motherly boasting. Well, actually it was the second thing
she did. The first was to find out from her husband, Carlos,
just exactly what "hitting for the cycle" meant.
Once she understood, Hannelore had every right to brag on her
son, the Athletics' third baseman. His cycle was the 238th in
major league history, making it a rarer feat than a no-hitter,
of which there have been 239. In terms of prestige, though, as
Blowers's mom can attest, the cycle pales by comparison.
When a pitcher has a no-hitter going, his teammates stay away
from him on the bench for fear they will jinx him. If pulled
off, the no-hitter becomes national news. On the other hand,
when John Valentin was a double short of the cycle two years
ago, his Red Sox teammates went out of their way to remind him
that he was very proficient at smacking the ball off the Green
Monster for a two-base hit, and joked that it might be a good
time to do so. Valentin did just that, but the fanfare was
The knock on the cycle is that it is a fluke. How else to
describe something that depends on a player like Blowerswho
understates the case more than a little when he says, "I don't
run real good"legging out a triple? "It's not something anyone
sets out to do," he says. "You have to be lucky."
But why are such rare, impressive feats overlookedand
sometimes even shrugged off by the guys who accomplished them?
Why would Valentin, upon turning baseball's ninth regular-season
unassisted triple play, in 1994, toss the ball onto the mound as
he ran off the field, retrieving it only when one of the umps
suggested it might make a keepsake?
The rule of thumb seems to be that feats accomplished primarily
because of luck tend to get slighted. Hence Valentin's
nonchalance following his triple play, because if it wasn't for
the fact that there were no outs and runners on first and second
who happened to be running on the pitch, it was a routine line
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Issue date: June 8, 1998