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12 Reasons Why the TRIPLE Is the Most Exciting 12 Seconds In Sports
Roy Blount Jr.
September 29, 2003
Bombs and bases on balls: state-of-the-art baseball offense today.� Barry Bonds. If the ball is not where he wants it (as every pitcher prays), he sneers. If it is where he wants it—Lord have mercy—he makes it disappear. Either way, he's the god of get-that-thing-away-from-me. Unlike most things called awesome these days, Barry Bonds batting is. But wouldn't it be nice if, when Bonds steps into the box, you could expect some fielding and running?� And Billy Beane. General manager of the Oakland A's, protagonist of Michael Lewis's cracker-jack best seller Moneyball. Having determined by computer analysis that on-base percentage is the single most significant offensive indicator, Beane devotes himself to the pursuit of men who are fat (so nobody else will want them) and who walk a lot. O.K. But who wants to watch fat men walking?
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September 29, 2003

12 Reasons Why The Triple Is The Most Exciting 12 Seconds In Sports

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9. Triples Trivia? Yes!

Which set of twins hit the most triples, lifetime? Off the top of your head you'd say Jose and Ozzie Canseco. But you'd be wrong. Jose hit 14, Ozzie none. Better answer: Ray and Roy (Bummer) Grimes, in the 1920s: Ray hit 25 triples for the Cubs, 12 in '22 alone. Roy (note nickname) had zero for the New York Giants. If, however, you want a set of twins, each of whom contributed at least one triple to the total, then the second pair you no doubt thought of was right: Johnny (five triples) and Eddie (four) O'Brien, the college basketball stars who were such versatile disappointments—at the plate, in the infield and on die mound—for the Pirates in the '50s. Runners-up: Mike and Marshall Edwards, who hit four and three triples, respectively, between '77 and '83.

There have been, perhaps blessedly, no big league triplets. Except, of course, for Coaker Triplett, who tripled 14 rimes in six years between 1938 and '45 for three National League teams. Interestingly, Jimmy Ripple hit exactly the same number of triples for four teams between 1936 and '43. Whether these two ever both hit a triple in the same game, inspiring headlines such as RIPPLE TRIPLE TRUMPS TRIPLETT'S, or what the odds are of that happening, remains unknown. When it comes to non-multiple-birth fraternal trios, the best three of the five Delahanty brothers, Ed, Frank and Jim, amassed more triples (266) than the three DiMaggios (212) or the three Alous (125), but you knew that.

Who hit the most triples (11) in a year during which he pulled off an unassisted triple play? Since 1920 the answer to that question has been Bill Wambsganss. But with two more triples this year Furcal would change all that. And if Furcal ends up atop the National League triples heap this year, he will become the first person to claim an unassisted triple play and a triples championship. Furcal, however, homered in his first two at bats in another game this year—his first-ever two-homer game, going back to his childhood in the Dominican Republic. This may also be the year that Furcal outgrows triples.

10. Who? Wahoo, That's Who
The greatest triples hitter of all time, Sam Crawford of the Tigers, who led the American League in triples six times and wound up with 312 in 19 years, was one of the most popular players of his day (1899-1917) and had one of the best nicknames ever: Wahoo Sam. He was from Wahoo, Neb.

11. Triplers Commit Triple-Robbery

In many cases the best hitters of triples have been the outfielders most noted for taking them away from people. Finley and Ichiro Suzuki come to mind today. The late Jim Murray wrote, " Willie Mays's glove is where triples go to die." The great catch Mays made of Wertz's drive in the 1954 World Series, some 460 feet from the plate, presumably snuffed out a triple. ( Wertz had hit one earlier in the game.)

As maybe the fastest centerfielder ever, Willie Wilson probably robbed or cut off as many triples as he hit, and he led the American League in hitting them at the ages of 25, 27, 30, 32 and 33. Roberto Clemente, who hit three triples in one day in the middle of the 1958 pennant race, had the arm, the range and the flash in rightfield to make triples defense as exciting as triples offense.

Many of today's leading triples-hitters are shortstops, but they can help prevent triples in the role of cutoff man. Or...well, in the second game of the 1916 World Series, Boston's Chester (Pinch) Thomas hit a long blast to left center that was ticketed for three bases. Between second and third, however, Brooklyn shortstop Ivy Olson tripped him. Instead of getting up and running on toward third, Thomas elected to stay and fight. The two were wrestling on the ground when the home plate umpire came out, separated them and awarded Thomas third base. Well, it was worth a try. And forget about the most exciting 12 seconds, that may have been a 12-minute triple.

12. Triples Are Not a Result of Corporate Management Policy

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