This Week in Baseball History: May 31 – June 6

What could go wrong when 10 cent beers are involved?

May 31, 1927 – Back-to-Back Days of Unassisted Triple Plays 


What is the rarest thing that one player could do in one game?

Perfect game? 21 times.

Four homers? 18 times.

Unassisted triple plays? 15 times.

There have been 724 triple plays in baseball, but it takes a special set of circumstances to have it happen unassisted. The ball has to be hit in the infield, the runners have to be caught off guard, and the fielder has to be positioned in just the right spot. With so many variables at play, it makes sense that this feat is so rare.

But in 1927, an unassisted triple play happened on back-to-back days.


The 1920s saw a monumental shift in how the game of baseball was played. Yes, the home run exploded in popularity. But so did the unassisted triple play!

Before the Roaring Twenties, the one and only unassisted triple play happened in 1909. The second one occurred in 1920. Then two more in 1923 and another in 1925.

That’s just five total across decades of professional play, four in just the 1920s. Jimmy Cooney wanted to join the club. You see, Cooney was one of the runners involved in that 1925 triple play (he was on second base).

Throughout his seven-season career, Cooney spent time on six different teams. He was not known for his bat, retiring with a .262/.298/.327 line in 1722 PAs. But on May 30, 1927, his glove made the only highlight that mattered.

It was a star-studded matchup between the visiting Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Hall of Famers like Hack Wilson and Pie Traynor were in the midst of MVP-caliber seasons. Bullet Joe Bush (A+++ baseball nickname) and Tony Kaufmann were dueling on the mound.

The game opened with a slaughter at the plate: Eight runs combined in just the first inning. The other innings went by without incident, until the fourth.

Lloyd Waner hit a leadoff single off Kaufmann, and Clyde Barnhart worked a walk to put two runners on. Then, with Cooney holding the runner at second close, Kaufmann delivered a curveball to Waner, who lined the ball right up the middle into Cooney’s glove. He stepped on second, then tagged out the advancing Barnhart for an unassisted triple play.

The very next day, Johnny Neun with the Tigers was talking about this play with his teammates over breakfast.

“I wonder how long it will be before anybody makes another one,” Neun said.

The answer? Just one day.

On May 31, Neun’s Tigers welcomed the Cleveland Indians to Navin Field. It was a very intense game all throughout: One run in the first, then absolutely nothing after that. The starters, Garland Buckeye and Rip Collins, were dealing. Neun, who was at first base, was involved on pretty much every play as it was a ground ball party in Detroit. After 15 separate putouts by Neun, the game entered the ninth with the Tigers leading 1-0.

But Cleveland felt like they had a rally in their bones. Glenn Myatt had a leadoff walk. Then Charlie Jamieson laid down a bunt single to right side of the infield. For the first time in the entire game, the Indians had multiple runners on base.

That wouldn’t last for long. Homer Summa went up to bat, and he tried laying down a couple bunts to move the runners over. When those failed and two strikes reigned, Summa decided to swing away on a hit-and-run. On the third pitch, he slapped a liner right at Neun, who caught it and then immediately stepped on first to record two outs.

The shortstop, Jackie Tavener, was standing on second and calling for the ball. But Neun ignored him, dashing to second himself and stepping on the bag to end the game on an unassisted triple play. One of the rare examples of this being recorded by a first baseman.

In just two days, baseball had seen its sixth and seventh unassisted triple plays.

That would be the last time it happened until 1968.


June 1, 2012 – Johan Santana’s No-Hitter


The Mets franchise is characterized by the most exuberant highs and the most depressing lows. For half a century, the Mets won a few championships scattered among many a traumatic season. But even in those dark years, Mets fans still found glimmers of joy. But there is one thing they never had the chance to enjoy: a no-hitter.

They’ve had some of the best pitchers of all time. Tom Seaver rightfully earns a spot as one of the best starters ever, while Doc Gooden had arguably the greatest pitching season ever. Heck, even Nolan Ryan, who has seven no-hitters to his name, played his first five seasons with the Mets. But none of them could notch that fabled no-no that Mets fans craved.

By the time that 2012 rolled around, just two teams were without a no-hitter: the Mets and the Padres.

Johan Santana wanted to change that.

The ace had arrived in New York in 2008 on a trade that sent Carlos Gómez and company to Minnesota in return. Over his first couple seasons, Santana established himself a formidable force in the Mets rotation. In 2008, he led the NL in ERA and finished third in the Cy Young race. 2009 and 2010 were also great seasons (3.13 and 2.98 ERA, respectively), albeit shortened by some injuries.

A shoulder injury then sidelined Santana for the entire 2011 season.

When he returned in 2012, Santana picked up right where he left off. Santana finished May with a complete game shutout against the Padres. His ERA after the game? 2.75 in 59 IP.

As the Mets entered their June 1 game against the St. Louis Cardinals, they stood just one game back in the NL East. The Cardinals, coming off a World Series win in 2011, had a scary lineup — they finished 2012 tied for the third best wRC+ (106).

But none of them could touch Johan.

The first inning went by quickly: Three up, three down for both teams. Then in the second, the Cardinals staged a bit of a rally, working two walks to put runners on first and second with one out. Santana then struck out the next two batters to end the inning without incident.

The Cardinals lineup really made Santana work. By the end of the sixth, Santana had already thrown 93 pitches. Would Santana, who was just 10 starts removed from shoulder surgery, really finish this game?

In the seventh, a line drive to left by Yadier Molina looked like it could end Santana’s chances for a no-no. But a stumbling catch by Mike Baxter, who crashed into the wall, kept it alive.


The seventh ended without a hit, but Santana’s pitch count crept higher to 107. How long of a leash would the Mets afford?

Santana stumbled a bit through the eighth, allowing his fifth walk of the evening. His pitch count soared to 122. But the Cardinals could not record a hit, and soon enough the ninth began with Santana striving for history.

Matt Holliday went down quickly with a lineout to center. The next batter, Allen Craig, slapped a fly ball to left. Just one out remaining.

With David Freese stepping up to bat, Santana sat at 128 pitches. How much more could his shoulder take?

Santana found himself down 3-0 very quickly. But he climbed himself back into the count with a couple clutch strikes. On a full count and at 133 pitches, Santana needed just one more to close the door. Here it is, the final pitch:



Santana’s final line: 9 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 5 BB, 8 K, and 134 pitches. For Mets fans, this game represented a highlight in an otherwise depressing four-season stretch where where they finished at the bottom of the NL East. But was Santana’s sacrifice worth it?

He had just struggled with injuries for the past couple seasons, and this high pitch count surely wouldn’t help him. For the rest of June, he performed pretty well (3.60 ERA in 30 IP). But from July onward, he completely fell apart: 15.63 ERA in 19 IP. Following his last game on Aug. 17, Santana would never pitch again in the majors.

For those of you who want to relive every out of Santana’s no hitter, here you go:



June 2, 2010 – Armando Galarraga’s Imperfect Game


11 years ago, Armando Galarraga pitched a 28 out perfect game.

It will not go down in the record books as a perfect game. But nearly every baseball fan would argue it should. Heck, even the umpire who made the incorrect call agrees with that.

Galarraga’s path to the majors took a long time. For his first four seasons of professional ball, he toiled among the lowest levels of the minors. Then, in 2005, he finally earned a promotion to AA. Two more years went by before Galarraga’s earned his major league promotion.

His 2007 was short and rough. Yes, he pitched one scoreless inning in his very first game. But he got roughed up in the two games that followed. That year, he pitched just 8.2 innings and recorded a 6.23 ERA.

2008 proved to be much better. A 3.73 ERA in 178.2 IP earned Galarraga fourth place in the ROY voting. Unfortunately, that would easily be Galarraga’s best season.

His ERA ballooned to 5.64 over 143.2 IP in 2009. Entering the 2010 season, Galarraga looked like the weak link in rotation that featured Cy Young winners Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello. A weak spring training resulted in Galarraga’s demotion to the minors to begin the year. But in the middle of May, the Tigers decided to call him up and give Galarraga another chance.

After a solid first start (1 ER in 5.2 IP), Galarraga had a poor second appearance (5 ER in 4.2 IP). Entering his June 2 start against the Indians, Galarraga sported a 4.50 ERA in 12 IP.

From the get-go, Galarraga looked like he was in complete control of the Indians. Even though he wasn’t wracking up strikeouts, the Indians could barely manage to hit a ball out of the infield. In the first three innings, just two balls were fly outs to the outfield. With great efficiency, Galarraga breezed his way through the Cleveland lineup.

By the time the seventh inning came around, Galarraga’s pitch count stood at just 58 and the crowd’s applause on each out grew louder and louder.

You know how each perfect game seems to have one incredible, game-saving catch? That happened in the ninth inning with Austin Jackson’s running, over-the-shoulder catch.


The stars seemed perfectly aligned for Galarraga to achieve perfection. The next batter hit an easy groundout to the shortstop.

Just one out remaining. Jason Donald, a rookie shortstop, stepped up as the Indians’ 27th batter. On a 1-1 count, Donald punched a ground ball to the hole in between first and second. You have to see for yourself how this played out.


Unfortunately for Jim Joyce, who was universally regarded as one of the best umpires in baseball, he made the wrong call as Donald was clearly out. Donald and Miguel Cabrera put their hands on their heads in disbelief. Galarraga himself flashed a confused smile.

Everyone was stunned.

At the time, instant replay existed in baseball. But it was only used on questionable home run calls. Nothing could be done to overturn the call.

Galarraga had to face one more batter, Trevor Crowe, and recorded a groundout to finally end the game.

His final line: 9 IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 3 K and 88 pitches. Here are all 27 outs from this imperfect game.


If Joyce had made the correct call, it would’ve been the third perfect game in one month (following Dallas Braden’s on May 9 and Roy Halladay’s on May 29).

But everyone involved handled the situation admirably. After the game, Galarraga met with Joyce and told reporters “nobody’s perfect.” The next game, Galarraga brought the lineup card to a tearful Joyce in a moment of great humility and respect.


For anyone who wants to read more about this, the Athletic recently published a wonderful profile where Galarraga and Joyce reflected about this game after a decade had passed.


June 4, 1974 – 10 Cent Beer Night


On the Mount Rushmore of bad promotional ideas, this night stands proudly. Solely judging by the name — 10 Cent Beer Night — how do you think things played out?

Let’s give you a point of reference. What is the equivalent of 10 cents in 1974? 54 cents in 2021. Today, beers can sell for as high as $15 each at a baseball game. Quite the bargain.

Why would Cleveland do a promotion like this? There are a couple reasons. First, Indians fans did not enjoy the 1960s and ’70s. They were perpetual basement dwellers. From ’69 to ’73, the Indians finished each season in either last or second-to-last in the AL East. Why were they so bad? Well, during this period the Indians had the third-worst wRC+ (84) and fifth-worst ERA (3.94) out of 24 MLB teams. Cleveland hadn’t been to the World Series since 1954, which they lost in a four-game sweep.

Second, there were whispers of relocating the Indians franchise due to poor attendance numbers. In the 50s, the Indians regularly drew well over one million fans across the season. But by the early 70s, that figure crumbled to barely 600,000.

“We were on a mission to save baseball in Cleveland,” said Carl Fazio, director of sales and marketing for the Indians, as reported by Ohio Magazine. “If we were going to fail, it wasn’t going to be because we didn’t try things.”

Third, the Indians had actually done a Nickel Beer Day in 1971 that went over swimmingly. 10 Cent Beer Night, at the time, seemed like a logical way to draw more fans in. They placed essentially one limit on this promotion: you could purchase, at most, six beers at one time (the regular price for a beer was 65 cents). However, you could make as many purchases as you want. Surely, nothing could go wrong … right?

By June 4, 1974, attitudes were a bit different. Perhaps Indians fans had been jaded by season after season of pitiful offense and pitching. The ’74 season also started rough: five straight losses. But throughout April and May, they managed to crawl their way back into mediocrity. Entering that infamous June 4 game, the Indians were suddenly 24-25, one win away from .500!

There was one more complicating factor. The Indians were set to host the Texas Rangers, another team that had been among the worst in baseball since the franchise’s founding in 1961. About one week prior, on May 29, the two teams played each other in Texas and had a pretty intense benches-clearing fight after Lenny Randle (TEX) body-checked Milt Wilcox (CLE) while running to first.


As you saw at the end, one fan had poured beer on Indians catcher Dave Duncan, who tried climbing into the stands to go after the fan.

With palpable energy surrounding the gates of Cleveland Stadium on June 4, 25,134 fans poured inside to engage in belligerence — their second highest attendance in the ’74 season to that point.

In a debaucherous symphony, the score, collective drunkenness and overall rowdiness gradually increased as the game went along. From pretty much the opening pitch, a chorus of firecrackers snuck in by fans turned the evening’s soundtrack into that of a battlefield.

The Rangers struck first with a Tom Grieve solo shot in the second. Shortly after, a woman ran onto the Indians’ on-deck circle, exposed her breasts, and then tried to kiss the third base ump. In the fourth, Grieve hit another solo shot. As he rounded the bases, a naked man jumped onto the field and slid into second base.

This was the story nearly every inning. Fans would rush the field and expose some sort of body part. Those in the stands would haphazardly heave half-filled beer cups with reckless disregard. Some fans even threw firecrackers into the Rangers’ bullpen.

Entering the ninth inning, the Indians trailed 5-3. But following a leadoff groundout, Cleveland put together a game-tying rally. With two outs, they had runners on first and second, so close to ending this evening that had barely bordered complete dysfunction.

But an easy finish was not to come. At that point, a fan jumped the outfield fence, sprinted over to Rangers RF Jeff Burroughs and knocked off his cap. Burroughs, turning to confront the fan, tripped and fell down. Rangers manager Billy Martin, well known for his explosive temper, couldn’t see what happened and thought the fan had attacked Burroughs.

Martin grabbed a fungo bat, and said to his players, “Let’s go get ’em, boys.”

The army of Texas Rangers storming the field changed the atmosphere among the unruly mob. Fans started pouring onto the field, wielding weapons of their own and outnumbered the Rangers by at least 10:1.

Indians manager Ken Aspromonte realized that the Rangers were in danger and ordered his own team to arm themselves with bats and go out into the field to protect them. Fans and players fought hand-to-hand. One player and ump were hit by steel chairs. The bases were stolen … literally.

A momentary reprieve in the mob’s anger allowed both teams just enough space to fight their way to dugouts and locked themselves in the clubhouses. Despite the players leaving, the mob continued their drunken destruction of Cleveland Stadium. With no end in sight, a bloodied umpiring crew ruled the contest a forfeit, giving a win to the Rangers. The score stayed tied at 5-5.

This was arguably the rowdiest game of baseball ever witnessed. Of course, the Indians learned from their mistakes and … decided to keep and tweak this promotional idea. For future “beer nights,” fans received a limited number of beer coupons.

Cleveland Stadium saw no more riots.

Photo by Icon Sportswire | Feature Graphic Designed by James Peterson (Follow @jhp_design714 on Instagram & Twitter)

Alex Kleinman

Journalist who loves the Yankees and the Bears. One gives me strength, the other leads me to existential dread. When I'm not obsessing over baseball, you can find me at a concert, hiking in a National Park or chasing my dog, Frankie, who has probably stolen one of my socks.

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