Lou: What's the fellow's name on third base?
Bud: What is the fellow's name on second base.
Lou: I'm not askin' ya who's on second.
Bud: Who's on first.
Lou: I don't know.
Bud and Lou: Third base!
-Bud Abbott and Lou Costello
On the mythical St. Louis Wolves team in Abbott and Costelio's famed routine, the third baseman's name is I Don't Know. Bud and Lou could not have used a more appropriate moniker for the poor fellow. In major league baseball history, third base has been the most misunderstood, misrepresented and underappreciated position on the diamond. No other has been more difficult to scout or been home to a wider spectrum of ability. (What other position can say that Brooks Robinson and Dave Kingman played it at the same time?) Third base is a place of contradiction, an orphan position, a lonely station where few players want to play but where many have, briefly and poorly.
Let's begin with these questions.
•If third basemen average only three chances per game, why is third base considered by some to be primarily a defensive position?