Baseball Tonight is running a series, showing each team’s top three web gems of all time. No word yet on which day they’ll show the A’s; they’ve only listed the schedule through August 19.
But I thought I’d try the exercise to see how many all-time A’s web gems I could recall. I’m sure I’m forgetting some good ones, but here’s what I came up with:
Joe Rudi, 1972 World Series.
This is probably just a nice play if it happens in June, but his scrawl against the wall is the signature image of that World Series.
The Bill Buckner Gaffe, 1974 World Series.
No, not that Bill Buckner gaffe. With no one out in the eighth inning of game five, Bill North misplayed a Buckner hit, turning a single into a double. But when Buckner got greedy and tried to get three bases out of it, the A’s executed a perfect relay throw, Reggie Jackson to Dick Green to Sal Bando, and nailed Buckner at third. Instead of a runner on second and nobody out, there was nobody on base, and one out. The A’s won the game by one run, and clinched the series.
Dick Green’s bellyflop, 1974 World Series.
Green was the fielding hero of the 1974 series, beyond the relay throw to nail Buckner. He launched three double plays in Game 3, the most memorable one with one out in the ninth, and A’s leading 3-2. Green stretched out to stop a ball up the middle, and from his belly flipped the ball to Bert Campaneris, who fired over to Jim Holt at first for the final out of the game.
Dwayne Murphy, off with his cap!
I can’t actually remember any specific web gems from the Billy Ball era, but I do remember Dwayne Murphy being the defensive star. My memories aren’t of the great catches he made, but of him returning to his spot after the great catch to retrieve his hat. He always placed his cap so loosely on his head that it fell off with just the slightest motion. For me, in those days, the fallen cap was the very symbol of great defense.
Mike Gallego, pick ’em.
If they had had web gems back around the turn of the 90s, Mike Gallego would have been a regular. I’m not sure how you pick just one of his plays. There’s the one where he charged a weakly hit ball from second base full speed, picked it up and flung himself parallel to the infield grass, and flipped the ball to first. There’s the one where he dove into the hole between first and second, ended up on his back, and from that prone position, flung the ball between his legs to first. And then there’s the time…
Felix Jose, stumblin fumblin catch
I can’t remember exactly when or against whom, but in 1990, just before he got traded for Willie McGee, Felix Jose made some crazy stumblin’, bumblin’ catch in right field. As I remember it, he fell down and rolled around while the ball bounced off his glove, off some other body part, and then ended up in his hand somehow.
Randy Velarde, unassisted triple play
What gets forgotten is that the reason there were two runners on in the first place is that Velarde had made an error on the preceding play.
- Terrence Long, robs Manny Ramirez of a game winning home run
Jason Kendall, game ending tag at home
This was one of those crazy games in Arlington, when nobody can stop anybody from scoring. It was 11-10 A’s in the ninth, two outs, when Kendall blocked a ball in the dirt. Michael Young tried to score, Kendall dove back to the plate, and tagged Young out to win the game.
Eric Chavez, pick ’em.
Like Gallego, Chavez is a web gem highlight reel all by himself. There are multiple plays where he covers yards and yard of the enormous Coliseum foul ground, making over-the-shoulder catches, sliding into the dugout, etc. There are all kinds of hard hit balls he’s snared, even though the ball already seems to have passed him, like this one. And then there’s the quick-thinking double play he turned the other day against Texas. How can you pick just one?
Missing from my list: those crazy plays by Eric Byrnes. Most of the time Byrnes made a crazy play in the outfield, it was because he took a bad route to the ball to begin with. I’d rather give props to someone like Mark Kotsay, who makes those same plays look much easier.