The Throw

We have started to do something kind of fun as a family — we have started reading plays together. Yeah, I know, that sounds like a lot of fun, doesn’t it? Our first play was probably my favorite ever: 12 Angry Men. I have bored people to tears with long thoughts about 12 Angry Men — I love it completely. Each person in the family played three jurors. I cannot even begin to tell you how spectacular it was seeing our 9-year-old act out the role of Juror No. 7, the somewhat soulless salesman who just wants to get the verdict over with so he can go to a ballgame. It’s fair to say she got into her character.

Anyway, I think our next play will be “Inherit the Wind,” another favorite. I have quoted from Inherit the Wind often here, and there’s one passage in particular that I probably think about at least once a week. It Henry Drummond talking about the price of progress:

“Sometimes I think there’s a man who sits behind a counter and says, ‘All right, you can have a telephone but you lose privacy and the charm of distance. … Mister, you may conquer the air but the birds will lose their wonder and the clouds will smell of gasoline.’”


Every now and again, you read or hear something that calibrates your thinking. I can honestly say that before I read that quote, I had never thought about the hidden costs of technology. To me, technology was (and is) wonderful … I’m a gadget junkie. As you know, I’m an infomercial junkie. New stuff makes everything better in every way. Take air conditioning. What possible drawbacks could there be to air conditioning?

Only after thinking about it did I realize that there ARE costs to air conditioning — energy costs, environmental costs, air quality and so on. Perhaps most hidden there’s the cost of camaraderie and togetherness. People used to be outside so much more, and it led to neighbors talking and joking and sharing their lives because it was too hot to go in. We don’t do that now. Believe me, I’m not giving back air conditioning, but there is a tradeoff. That’s what the Drummond quote has made me think a lot about. The hidden tradeoffs.

Tuesday night, Oakland’s Yoenis Cespedes made a throw for the ages. I’m sure you’ve seen it — but I’m also sure you want to see it again. Here it is:

If you watched it first on this video, like I did, there is a very clear order to your amazement. The first time around there is disbelief. You see Cespedes get to the bouncing ball, attempt to cut it off, and then watch as the ball rattles around in his glove and starts to roll toward the stands in left field. Before he gets to the ball again, the camera cuts to Howie Kendrick rounding third and heading for home. At that point, your brain flashes a clear image, a clear expectation — Kendrick will score easily, perhaps without a throw. Only in the next instant, the camera flips to the long angle, and you see the baseball flying almost directly over Kendrick’s head. The ball lands in catcher Derek Norris’ glove, he slaps on the tag, and, impossibly, Kendrick is out.

Impossible is the word.

Of course, the mind does not easily accept the impossible. It happened — it clearly was not impossible. So you watch the first replay. That shows Cespedes chasing the ball into the wall, picking it up cleanly with his bare hand and in one overpowering motion heaving the ball toward home plate. The throw is high but right on target, fiies into Norris’ glove and he makes the tag. Out. Is is not impossible. But it is still breathtaking.

The second replay is a close-up of Cespedes — you see the ball bouncing away from his glove and then you see how cleanly he is able to scoop up the ball with his throwing hand. The ball bounces low off the wall, kind of hops up and skips into his palm — there is no need for any adjustment before he threw it. He is able to just jump into his throw home, which is beautiful.

The third replay is from behind — it shows how high arcing Cespedes’s throw was. At it’s apex, it is probably 30 or 35 feet off the ground. It’s fascinating to watch Norris’ reaction as the ball approaches — there’s almost a casualness to the way he catches the ball. Is he trying to deke the runner? Is he in disbelief? He places the tag and then shows the glove and ball to the umpire, who immediately makes the out call.

The fourth replay is at the plate — it shows Norris making the tag. This angle is not all that great, actually; the first time I saw it I was not entire sure Norris got the tag down before Kendrick foot touched the plate. But the second time I could see, yeah, he gets Kendrick.

Then there is some footage of Cespedes pointing to a teammate, people talking (presumably about the throw), the replay officials in action and so on.

All of this was amazing — we live in an amazing and wonderful time of high-definition streaming video and a bunch of camera angles even of an A’s-Angels game in June. Every game is on television. Every game is on our devices. Every magical play can be broken down and watched again and again. It’s so great to be a sports fan in 2014. So what could we POSSIBLY be trading off?

* * *

Twenty-five years ago, almost to the day, the Kansas City Royals were playing in the Kingdome against the Seattle Mariners. Floyd Bannister started that game for the Royals, and he pitched seven superb innings. Kansas City led 3-0 going into the eighth. But to lead off the eighth, Bannister gave up a walk and a single — Jeff Montgomery came in for relief, gave up a single and a double and the score was 3-2 going into the ninth. In the ninth, Royals closer Steve Farr gave up a home run to Jay Buhner and the game went into extra innings.

That 1989 Royals team was actually quite good — they would win 90 games, the last Royals team to do so. That 1989 Mariners was not very good at all — they would lose 89 games. What they shared was this: Each team had a superstar player captured the nation’s imagination.

The 1989 Mariners featured a 19-year-old kid who could do everything on a baseball diamond — Ken Griffey Jr.

The 1989 Royals featured a 26-year-old man who could do everything on or off a baseball diamond — Bo Jackson.

Neither had played much of a role in the game. Griffey had struck out before the Buhner home run — he went 0-for-5. Jackson had singled in the first inning and then stolen second base, but he went hitless for there rest of the game. He struck out to end the top of the 10th. But Bo was about to announce his presence with authority.

In the bottom of the 10th, Seattle’s Dave Cochrane led off with a walk. The next batter was Harold Reynolds, and I can only guess that he missed a sac bunt attempt because Cochrane was thrown out stealing. The manager of that Mariners team was Jim Lefevre, father of current Royals announcer Ryan, and I’m going to guess he did not try to have Cochrane straight-steal that base. In more than 550 career plate appearances, Cochrane stole exactly one base in his career.

Anyway, there was one out, and Reynolds then grounded a ball through the hole between short and third for a single. Reynolds was fast. Two years earlier, he had led the American League with 60 stolen bases. In 1988, he led the league with 11 triples (and also 29 caught stealing). The guy could fly, and so when Scott Bradley ripped a double off the top of the wall in left field, there was absolutely no doubt Reynolds was going to score the winning run.

The Royals left fielder was Bo Jackson.

Here’s what we know: The ball bounced off the wall just as Reynolds was three or four steps away from third base. Jackson caught the ball near the warning track, he might even have been on the edge of it, and he fired the ball home. Reynolds was so sure he was going to score easily that he was surprised to see a teammate motioning for him to slide. Jackson’s throw went 340 or so feet in the air and smacked into the the glove of catcher Bob Boone who reached left and, impossibly, tagged Reynolds out at the plate.

Impossible is the word.

What followed is legend. Reynolds threw his helmet in an action between disgust and disbelief. Then, people began telling stories about the throw. Bob Boone admitted that he thought the game was over and he started walking off the field only to see this baseball flying at him at warp speed. Ryan Lefebvre, just a kid at that game, had also assumed it was over and had gone down into the clubhouse only to hear … silence. His father would call it a supernatural play.

“Now I’ve seen it all,” Bradley would say.

I always liked Bo Jackson’s description — he almost seemed to resent his ability to do remarkable things. “I just caught the ball and threw,” he said. “End of story. … It’s nothing to brag about. Don’t make a big issue out of it.”

My favorite image, though, is one told by my old friend Dick Kaegel, who was covering the game for the Kansas City Star. The game lasted 13 innings (the Royals eventually won 5-3). It ended at 11 p.m. in Seattle, 1 a.m. back home in Kansas City, and Kaegs went downstairs and into the Mariners clubhouse to get a quick reaction. The first thing he saw was Harold Reynolds watching the replay on television. There was only one replay available and only one. It was unclear and jumpy — it never showed Jackson getting to the ball or throwing it, it never showed Bob Boone catching it either, it never even showed that clear a picture of the tag — and so Reynolds just watched the play and rewound, watched the play again and rewound again, watched the play again and rewound again.

Harold Reynolds never was able to figure out what happened. I’ve talked about it with him: To this day, he doesn’t know what happened. The throw was impossible in 1989, and it is impossible 25 years later.

Maybe you don’t see this as a tradeoff at all, but it seems to me that this is a price of technology. Of course I wish there was high definition video of the Bo Jackson throw — like there is of the Cespedes throw — so that I could break it down, see how it happened, enjoy it again and again. But, perhaps even more, I’m glad there isn’t. I have unlocked the mysteries of Cespedes throw — we all have. It took five minutes. Meanwhile, I will think about the Bo Jackson throw every now and again for the rest of my life.

66 thoughts on “The Throw

      1. AaronB

        The second site I posted estimates Ankiel’s throws at about 300 feet, as he was playing CF at Coors, just off center (415) and a bit in front of the warning track. He was throwing to 3rd, not home for those who don’t recall.

        Reply
    1. Dark Side of the Mood

      I was watching the game when Ankiel made those throws; they remain the best I’ve ever seen.

      Reply
  1. Michael

    Cespedes’ throw is described as 310 feet by Yahoo Sports, and I would go with that.

    When you see Bo Jackson’s throw, notice the 316 sign where the foul line meets the left field fence. Subtract a few more feet that he is front of fence, add some more because the fence is curving deeper where he stands, and I imagine his throw went maybe 325 feet.

    I think Adam Eaton’s throw in 2012 from left-center field to first base was about the same distance. See http://m.mlb.com/video/v24639601/arisd-eaton-turns-two-on-great-catch-amazing-throw

    As far as I can tell, none of Roberto Clemente’s great throws went any further. His memorable throw in the 1971 World Series was well in front of the 309 sign in Baltimore. During his career in Pittsburgh, the right field corner was 300 feet away.

    Reply
    1. Jeff

      That ratio is misleading. The runner maintains his speed. The ball in flight decelerates immediately upon leaving the fielder’s hand. A pitch from the mound may be 95 mph out of the pitchers hand, but is about 85 mph when it crosses home plate.

      The drop in speed for an outfield putout is greater. The ball is still much faster than any runner, on average, but the average speed of a Cespedes’ throw is more in the 75 mph range.

      Reply
    2. BobDD

      The thing about Clemente’s throws was that they were more on a straight line and his release was quick like a SS. I’ve seen a few (very few) who could throw as far and as hard as Clemente, but never an OF who could release as quickly and as seemingly effortlessly as Clemente. So go ahead and compare the greatest throwers to Clemente, but the full package is unlikely to ever be matched.

      Those of us that watched him live, andn saw him come up through the ranks knew what we had, but we were open-eyed about it too. We an OF who threw slightly more accurately (Al Kaline, but not as hard) and OFs who threw as hard (Rocky Colavito, Frank Howard his rookie year only, but not as quickly), but while there “might” have been someone more accurate, one or two who threw as hard, none had as quick a release, nor had a combination of those three traits that came very close to Clemente’s ability. I believe Clemente’s throws to be the most unmatchable skill in MLB history.

      Reply
      1. otistaylor89

        I believe Clemente had the best OF arm ever, at least that I saw. In high school, he once threw the javelin 195′ and they tried to talk him into training for the 1956 Olympic Games.

        Reply
  2. blair

    A guy like Bo Jackson can throw the ball 90, maybe 95 mph. A guy like Harold Reynolds can run 20, maybe 21 mph. Advantage, ball, 4.5:1. The ball has to go 340 feet, maybe 360 along its arc. Reynolds would have to be less than 80 feet from home and going full gas to beat it.

    It’s surprising it doesn’t happen more often. The problem is accuracy, which is almost purely random at those distances. That extra few hundred milliseconds the catcher needs to make an awkward move to get the glove from the ball to the runner probably induces a lot of guys to just throw to the cutoff man.

    Gerardo Parra has made a clinic of throwing guys out at home and at first from right field.

    Reply
    1. Steve

      The ball loses a lot of speed to air resistance along the way. I timed Cespedes’s throw at 2.93 seconds from release to catcher. If the distance is 310 feet (the pole is 330), that’s an average ground speed of 72 mph. Much more at the start, much less at the end.

      Reply
  3. albanate

    “Twelve Angry Men” is a favorite of mine too. But every time I see the movie, I can’t help thinking that the guy really is guilty, and this jury just let him get away with it.

    Remember, it’s supposed to be “beyond a REASONABLE doubt,” not “beyond ANY doubt.”

    Reply
    1. Beffenette

      I have to agree with Jerry on this. You’re not paying attention if you think the guy is guilty.

      Reply
  4. Faye Schlift

    The short list of great throws has to include Dodger Joe Ferguson’s 1974 World Series throw on a Reggie Jackson potential run scoring sac fly.
    Sal Bando on 3rd, Ferguson is the right fielder. Jackson hits a fly ball to straightaway center where Jimmy Wynn is waiting. Ferguson runs over from right, cuts in front of Wynn, catches the ball and throws it on the fly to
    the catcher who tags Bando out. An absolutely great throw but what makes it even better is that Ferguson’s regular position was catcher.

    Reply
    1. brian

      And yet because of Buster Pansy, we’ll never see a play like that again that incorporates Yeager’s skillful blocking of the plate.

      Reply
      1. Charlie

        Cute play on words. And if the runner had decided to put a flying block on Yeager, either or both of them might never have played again. One run in a baseball game is not worth a career threatening leg injury and certainly is not worth a potentially mind altering concussion.

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    2. bellweather22

      Ferguson did play 30 games in RF in 1974 and continued to play there in following seasons, as Steve Yeager started more often at catcher. Ferguson was not known for his defensive prowess. The interesting back story of this play, which I actually saw in person….unfortunately the Dodgers still lost the game…. Was that Jimmy Wynn, after compiling an MVP worthy season, was suffering with bone chips in his elbow. Late in the season, he would underhand the ball to the cutoff man because he couldn’t throw at all. So, Ferguson knowing that Wynn couldn’t possibly throw out Bando ran a long way to cutoff the ball and make the throw. Bando also helped make the play possible by being historically one of the slowest runners in MLB history and by essentially stopping and getting tagged out, rather than sliding or bowling over Yeager. It was still quite a play.

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  5. James

    The speed of the ball tails off fairly quickly due to air friction. In the distance from the mound to the plate, say the average speed is 95. Some one would have to help us with the effect of air friction, but generally considered quite significant–say the average speed of the throw home is 60 mph, for example.

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  6. 5aces

    hle I have pked up all the nuances in the replays, seeing it n TV live was totally different. The key is the misplay off of Cespedes’ glove. I wascursing at the TV that another run was going to easily score because of it. Then you see the throw. For a split second you get even more angry because it is a waste to throw it home, now the hitter is going to advance. But then you see that it has a chance, I’m a loudmouth in front of my TV, but tis i one time I was literally left speechless for about a minute.

    Reply
  7. Roberto

    My grandfather took me to my first Major League Baseball game at Forbes Field in 1963. It was a night game and we arrived a little late because he had to work. Just as we entered the stadium a towering infield pop fly was hit to Bob Bailey, the Pirates “bonus baby” third baseman. As a youngster, I stood in awe at how high the ball traveled and how easily Bailey put it away in his glove. I couldn’t believe how bright the lights and grass and bases and balls and uniforms and everything else in that aged, but beautiful, stadium seemed to be. I have never forgotten that moment — yet it really was just a routine major league infield pop fly.

    So, I’m guilty of sharing a young and impressionable memory – and I don’t have any HD footage as proof, but I seriously doubt any player has ever thrown from the outfield with the awe inspiring greatness of Roberto Clemente. In the third or fourth inning of that same game, he threw a runner out at home plate from deep right field. To this day that “no hop” bullet to Jim Pagliaroni remains the most beautiful throw I have ever seen. Unlike Yoenis Cespedes amazing feat, Clemente’s ball did not “travel in a high arc 30 or 35 feet off the ground.” Instead, he threw a rope that probably never went more than fifteen feet above the ground.

    Like Joe with Bo, I will think of “The Great One’s” throw every now and again for the rest of my life. Thanks for the reminder.

    Reply
    1. LuisLozada

      Isn’t it amazing that everybody’s first game is ALWAYS nice and sunny? Or a perfect summer night? I’ve never heard: “The grass was incredibly green but it was raining…”

      Somebody up there must love baseball.

      Reply
  8. Bob Waddell

    I have a brother in Seattle and any time someone mentions The Throw it describes Ichiro’s 1st season there when he nailed a guy going into 3rd base from RF.

    Reply
      1. GWO

        I’m a Brit, who became a baseball fan by TV, and a Mariners fan for no good reason (I’m actually wearing an Edgar shirt right now for no good reason). I went to visit an old friend in America, an ex-pat who’d become an A’s fan… He got some great seats on the third base line for that game. It was the second baseball game I’d ever been to, and I can still remember that laser throw, and T Long’s reaction. Started chanting MVP, which was remarkably prescient.

        (In the first baseball game I ever attended, the previous year, Barry Bonds hit Rich Rodriguez into McCovey Cove for the first splash hit ever.)

        Reply
  9. DjangoZ

    When I watched the Cespedes throw this morning the first thing I thought of was that Bo throw years ago and how we retold that story for years and year…without any video. The pleasure was in telling the story to people who had never heard it and seeing them get goosebumps just as I did in telling it.

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  10. Bill Caffrey

    It seems unlikely to me that the greatest OF arm in MLB history would belong to a superstar. Because superstars become superstars first and foremost because they can hit. They often also play great defense as a function of their general athletic prowess, but the skills of hitting and throwing are so little related, and the number of outfielders to have passed through MLB so many, that it seems much more likely to me that the greatest arm of all time belongs to someone who was never able to make much of a mark with his bat.

    And so…Alex Ochoa.

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    1. BobDD

      Entertaining rationale . . . for your eventual pick – but you could have used that same shaky premise for the greatest ever . . . Roberto Clemente; his OPS+ was below 100 four of his first five years (86 over first five years), but his combination of arm strength, quick release, and accuracy was such that his outfield throws were unmatched before or since. This is one case where reputation, conventional wisdom, scouts, fans, players from the era, and Bill James all agree. Every so often, greatness can reliably be agreed upon.

      Reply
    2. bellweather22

      You could go with a Poz favorite Jeff Francoeur as well. Powerful and accurate arm. Even as he managed to lose the athleticism of his first year or two which made him maddeningly slow…. Which was very odd in that Clemson had offered him a scholarship as a free safety and he was a very fast wide receiver and game breaker in HS…. He could still throw darts. If he got to the ball, it was foolish to run on him.

      Reply
  11. Cathead

    CBSsports.com has a post with a series of videos of great throws, including several reverenced above — Jackson’s, Clemente’s in the WS and Ferguson’s in the WS..

    I am glad technological advances have allowed these to be preserved for us. Who knows how many great throws (and catches) in the past were lost to succeeding generations. I suppose we do lose the art of story-telling — such as Roberto’s well-done post above.

    But there will come a time when the eyewitnesses are gone. Who is here to tell us of Walter Johnson’s fastball or Carl Hubbell’s screwball? Presumably the videos of Cespedes and the others noted will still be around in 75 years to give the fans of the future a better appreciation. If anything, there will be too much old video to wade through to find the gems.

    Reply
  12. Joe T.

    Since Cespedes’ amazing throw started with an error, I thought I would share this story from Charley Feeney, TSN’s Pirates correspondent in 1969:

    “[This is the] story about “The Throw,” which happened in the late 1960’s at Forbes Field. Roberto Clemente made the most remarkable throw I ever saw … and he got an error on the play!

    “The Bucs were playing the Cardinals, it was one of the middle innings and the Cards had runners on first and third. I don’t recall the runner on third, but Orlando Cepeda was on first. I believe Tim McCarver singled to right, and the runner on third scores. Cepeda is about to stop at second, but the ball rolls through Clemente’s legs, and Cepeda takes third (reason for the error being charged to Clemente). The ball rolled to the warning track in right (not close to the foul line), and Clemente picks up the ball with his back to the plate. He whirls and throws a no-bounce strike to (Jerry) May at home plate and Cepeda is out trying to score.”

    “After the play, I looked around the press box to find the oldest baseball observer there. Leo Ward, the traveling secretary of the Cards, had been watching baseball since the teens. His quote: ‘If I didn’t see it, I wouldn’t believe it.’”

    Reply
    1. dshorwich

      That would appear to be the game of June 13, 1967:

      http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/PIT/PIT196706130.shtml

      Feeney had the gist of the story right, but was off on a few details:

      It was the top of the 1st; Cepeda was on first with two outs, having just driven in a runner from 3rd to give the Cards a 1-0 lead. The bb-ref play-by-play then reads:

      “Single to CF; McCarver to 3B/Adv on E9; Cepeda out at Hm/RF-C”

      Clemente committed a 2nd error in the game – and threw out another runner at home, too (not on the same play).

      Reply
  13. thoughtsandsox

    Technology makes us lose even more in football. Endless replays and extra rules. With as many camera angles as there are now there may have never been an Immaculate Reception.

    Reply
  14. Dave

    I don’t recall the other team nor where it was played, but Vlad had a throw like Cespedes but from the right field corner, all the way home on the fly to nail the runner. If I remember correctly, it was on a fair ball hit into the corner which he ran down there.

    First MLB game I ever saw in person was Pirates at Phillies, and the former had a young guy in right who couldn’t (yet) hit that well. The program had him as “Bob” Clemente. He nailed a guy at second trying to get a double on a ball off the high wall in right at Connie Mack Stadium. A routine peg for Clemente, but to an 8 year old–WOW.

    Reply
  15. MikeN

    The trial originated not in Dayton but in the New York offices of the American Civil Liberties Union, for it was this organization that ran an announcement in Tennessee newspapers, offering to pay the expenses of any teacher willing to test the new Tennessee anti-evolution law.
    When a group of Dayton leaders decided to take advantage of this offer, their main reason was not so much defense of religion as it was economics, for they saw the trial as a great means of publicity that would attract business and industry to Dayton.
    Others responsible for the trial were the media, who worked hard to persuade Bryan and Darrow to participate in the trial.
    John T. Scopes was not a martyr for academic freedom. Primarily a coach of three sports, he also taught mathematics, physics, chemistry, and general science. He agreed to help test the law even though he could not remember ever teaching evolution, having only briefly substituted in biology. He was never jailed, nor did he ever take the witness stand in the trial. The people of Dayton liked him, and he cooperated with them in making a test case of the trial.
    William Jennings Bryan was not out to get Scopes. Bryan thought the Tennessee law a poor one because it involved fining an educator, and he offered to pay Scopes’ fine if he needed the money.
    Bryan was familiar with Darwin’s works, and he was not against teaching evolution — if it were presented as a theory, and if other major options, such as creationism, were taught.
    The trial record discloses that Bryan handled himself well and when put on the stand unexpectedly by Darrow, defined terms carefully, stuck to the facts, made distinctions between literal and figurative language when interpreting the Bible, and questioned the reliability of scientific evidence when it contradicted the Bible. Some scientific experts at the trial referred to such “evidence” of evolution as the Piltdown man (now dismissed as a hoax).
    Bryan and his wife were on good terms, and she did not admire Clarence Darrow. Scopes dated some girls in Dayton but did not have a steady girlfriend.
    The defense’s scientific experts did not testify at the trial because their testimony was irrelevant to the central question of whether a law had been broken, because Darrow refused to let Bryan cross-examine the experts, and because Darrow did not call on them to testify. But twelve scientists and theologians were allowed to make statements as part of the record presented by the defense.
    The topic of sex and sin did not come up in the trial. Neither did Bryan believe that the world was created in 4004 B.C. at 9 a.m.
    Instead of Bryan being mothered by his wife, he took care of her, for she was an invalid.
    The people of Dayton in general and fundamentalist Christians in particular were not the ignorant, frenzied, uncouth persons the play pictures them as being.
    Scopes was found guilty partly by the request of Darrow, his defense lawyer, in the hope that the case could be appealed to a higher court.
    Bryan did not have a fit while delivering his last speech and die in the courtroom.

    Reply
  16. MCD

    Not to be a spoilsport, but this sort of reminds of the first of Dave Parker’s throws at the 1979 All-star game? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkCE6JHUb00

    If Parker hadn’t butchered the fly ball to begin with, he could have just caught it for an out, negating a need to throw to third in the first place.

    Similarly, Cespedes’ botching of the hit was what necessitated the throw home. Though here, it is ultimately a net gain because the runner would have still been at third had he fielded it cleanly.

    Reply
  17. NevadaMark

    The thing that sucks is no runner with half a brain is going to challenge Cespedes for the rest of his career, probably.

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    1. Paul Zummo

      Funny thing you mention that, because that’s where I thought Joe was going with the concept of a tradeoff.

      Reply
    2. Eric

      So not true. I am stuck in KC watching the Royals, but for the last couple years we had Alex Gordon and Jeff Francouer in the corners. I was constantly amazed at the amount of runners that would challenge them. I can only assume they were going with the bull durham theory of “he hasn’t seen my heat” just replacing heat with speed. It was too the point that I was getting mad at the base runners and third base coaches.

      Reply
  18. Joel A

    I have been blessed to see the throw twice in person in my lifetime. The first was in 1963 at Cleveland stadium. I have not looked up the details of the game but this is what happened. Vic Davalillo was a rookie and he hit a line drive to the base of the fence in right center field. The fence back then was chainlink and the ball stuck in the bottom of the fence. Davalillo was as fast as the wind then and was turning third for an inside the park homerun when the fielder got the ball loose, turned and threw. It was the perfect throw from the fence to homeplate and Davalillo was out. The other was at the 1979 All-Star game I was able to attend. Dave Parker in right field lost a high pop-up in the ceiling of the Kingdome. It was one of those that a fast runner is well past first when it comes down. The ball came do a foot or two behind Parker who turned around, got to the ball turned around and made a perfect throw to third base to get the batter trying for a triple. They don’t happen often but they are a sight to see when they do.

    Reply
  19. Andrew

    Ollie Brown or Ellis Valentine or Carl Furillo might have uncorked colossal throws in days of yore, but we don’t have the clips so they don’t get anointed with “The Throw.” Frankly I wasn’t as impressed by Cespedes’ air-mail throw as I was by Bo Jackson’s. But it served the purpose of bring us around to another Royals story.

    Reply
    1. EnzoHernandez11

      Give me the ESPN era over the days of yore anytime. Once the older guys like me are gone, Ollie Brown and Ellis Valentine will be entirely lost to history. Carl Furillo will last, but only because he played for the legendary Brooklyn teams and Roger Kahn wrote a book about them. But Ollie and Ellis did their best work with expansion teams that rarely made an appearance on This Week in Baseball, let alone the NBC Game of the Week.

      The best throw I ever saw occurred in a May game in 1969, Padres and Cubs. No score, man (Randy Hundley, I think) on third, fly ball to deep center, and Ollie Brown, in right, pulls a Joe Ferguson, cutting in front of the centerfielder, righting himself, and gunning Hundley out at the plate. In my mind’s eye, the ball was a good 30-40 feet farther than the one Ferguson caught and Brown ran a much greater distance to catch up with it. But we’ll never know, will we?

      If Ollie Brown had made that catch in 1999 or 2009, instead of 1969, we’d still be seeing it today, and baseball fans of all ages would remember his name. So, yeah, I’d be more than willing to trade a little of the wonder of Bo Jackson’s throw in order for people like Brown and Valentine to get their due.

      Reply
  20. Charlotte Marks (@Vladdiefan)

    I don’t remember the exact game or even the exact year, but when Dwight Evans was still very young and relatively unknown, I witnessed him throwing a baserunner out at third from deep in the corner of Fenway’s right field. Two things always stuck with me – the ball landing in the third baseman’s glove, knee high, a perfect strike, and the look of utter shock on the runner’s face.

    Reply
  21. John Verruso

    New England football fans have a favorite line from “Inherit the Wind” too: “Brady, Brady, Brady Almighty!”

    Reply
  22. Harvey Stansell

    Many people say that the triple is the most exciting play in baseball. I think its a ball hit into the gap and an outfielder gunning down a runner at 3rd or home. And my nomination for the greatest throw I remember is the throw Eric Davis made in the 1990 playoffs to throw out Bobby Bonilla at third. Bonilla hit one off the wall in right centerfield. Billy Hatcher tried the catch the ball, missed and collapsed on the warning track. Davis came over to help from left field, grabbed the ball, pivoted and threw on one hop strike that went right past Bonilla’s ear. Sabo caught the ball and dropped the tag on Bonilla. I do remember Parker’s throws in the All Star game and Clemente’s in the 71 World Series, but being a life-long Reds fan, I prefer the Davis throw.
    Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-NLV6d9TkkE
    And by the way, Joe, I love being able to re-live this on YouTube.

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  23. Brian Kraus

    I don’t recall the exact timeframes, but Jesse Barfield uncorked one of those throws from deep right in Minnesota and nailed a runner a third sometime in the late 80′s when he was on the Yankees.

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  24. Drew

    I immediately thought of Bo’s throw when I saw that. I’ve watched that replay over and over, too. I’m 32 years old and I don’t remember that play happening when it did, but I remember the aura of Bo when he was playing. That 30 for 30 documentary on him is the best. Only thing missing was Reynolds talking about that play, I love how worked up he gets over it.

    It also reminded me of one of my plays. I was a pretty good baseball player. Primarily a pitcher who could throw it through a brick wall with no idea where it was going, a good outfielder and not much of a hitter, I was supposed to play small college ball in North Carolina.

    I had to be 15 or 16, playing for a summer league team. I was stationed in rightfield, one out, runner on third. Fly ball to me, I didn’t have to go far for it. It was probably about halfway out to rightfield, so I’m estimating maybe 250 – 270 feet.

    I lined it up, out of the corner of my eye I saw the runner at third tag. Camped out just behind where it’d fall, ran in, caught it, crow hopped and heard my coach boom GET HIM AT HOME! while I unleashed a throw as hard as I could.

    It was on a line. My throw usually tailed a bit to my arm side so it went up third base line a few feet, but it hit our catcher in the chest and to his credit, he made a sweet play by having to reach back across his body and swipe tag the runner as he tried to slide past. I’ll never forget that runner sitting there looking at me with a WTF look on his face. Inning over.

    One of the coolest feelings of all time and nothing else really has ever quite reached that. It’s strange, I was named team MVP of my high school team for my senior year, I don’t even think about that. When I think about my days of playing baseball, that throw always comes to mind first as well as a couple other moments. I can’t even imagine what it’d be like to be like Clemente, Jackson, or Cespedes and unleash a throw like that in a major league stadium with thousands of people watching.

    I’ll agree with some of the above sentiments, amazing outfield throws are one of the best things about baseball and they don’t happen enough so when something like does occur, it’s really special. Think about it, we can all talk about these throws and know exactly what each other is talking about, there’s a handful of them. I wasn’t alive to see Clemente’s world series throw, but I was watching the Orioles broadcast the other night and they showed Cespedes’ throw and then the Clemente throw. I don’t think what people realize (I never did) is that the Orioles runner was SAFE.

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  25. nightfly

    All those camera angles, and I never got the one I was waiting for: the one that showed the reacion of all the fans who were happily clapping at the muff, perhaps chirping at Cespedes, as the ball sailed homeward and they suddenly realized that Kendrick was doomed.

    Reply
  26. luke

    Just finally getting around to reading this. I’m a long time reader from KC. Love your writing, always.

    If you haven’t yet, you should see the Russian film “12.” It is a very well done version of 12 Angry Men that is definitely worth seeing.

    I was six years old when “the throw” happened, but I have heard the tales growing up. I wish I could have seen it–another trade-off for technology, those who weren’t there will never really see it.

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