SI Vault
N. Brooks Clark
May 12, 1986
It is one of the odder facts of baseball that of the eight unassisted triple plays in major league history, two of them came on successive days. Diamond savants may recall that on May 30, 1927, with Pirates on first and second, shortstop Jimmy (Scoops) Cooney of the Cubs caught a line drive, touched second and tagged out the runner from first, who had been running with the pitch. The next morning, Tiger first baseman Johnny Neun read about Cooney's feat over breakfast and wondered aloud to his roommate, shortstop Jackie Tavener, how long it would be before someone made another unassisted triple. Tavener figured maybe 10 years, which shows how much he knew: Not only did the next triple play occur that very afternoon, it was made by Neun himself.
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
May 12, 1986

Linked By Their Special Triple Plays, Two Oldtimers Finally Get To Talk

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4 5 6

Neun: Well, you stay well and enjoy being 91.

Cooney: Thanks a lot for calling.

Intruder: Do you still get fans asking about the triple plays?

Neun: I do, yes. From time to time I get autographs to sign and things like that. I have done my share of it, I think.

Intruder: Anything quite like that ever happen to you?

Neun: Well, no. Of course, you don't have that many thrills. I went 5 for 5 for 5 once playing against the Yankees when I was with Detroit—five hits, five times at bat and five stolen bases. That was pretty well publicized. That was maybe July 9, 1927. In fact, I used it on my Christmas card one year. I got the box score through Bill Guilfoile [associate director] up at Cooperstown.

Cooney: I had another triple-play freak happen. I was playing for the Cardinals [in 1924], and we were playing at Philadelphia. Branch Rickey was the manager. Philly got the bases full with nobody out, and Rickey called in Willie Sherdel, lefthand pitcher. He threw one ball. The batter hit the ball to Bottomley at first base, and Bottomley threw to me at second and Hornsby covered first. We made a triple play—the pitcher just threw one ball for the three of them.

Neun: I knew Willie Sherdel. I played a little with him with the Braves.

Intruder: Would your lives have been any different without those plays?

Neun: Oh, I don't think so. Those are nice things while they happen, but you accept them and go on about your career and try to do the best you can.

Continue Story
1 2 3 4 5 6