Imagine a universe like ours, but with an important difference. In this universe Fred Hoyle was right. No Big Bang, no Big Crunch, just an everlasting Steady State. Everything that can happen, does, infinitely many times.
Baseball is like that, if you ignore the fact that it hasn’t been around forever, and probably won’t be around forever. But in a sport where almost 2500 games are played each season (it used to be fewer, of course) and which has had over a hundred seasons, many unlikely events have occurred.
From the “Stat of the Day
” blog at Baseball Reference comes an example. Only once
since 1956—and perhaps since the beginning of baseball time—has a pitcher picked off three players in an inning. Tippy Martinez, pitching the tenth inning in relief for the Baltimore Orioles against the Toronto Blue Jays, picked off Barry Bonnell, Dave Collins, and Gene Upshaw. The game is beautifully described by Tom Goodman, who follows up the climactic play with this:
He picked off the side, I said to myself over and over. He picked off the side. I slumped back into the chair. I wondered whether anyone else was listening to this game. I looked at my watch. It was nearly eleven o’clock. I thought maybe I should call someone to let them in on this game, but I didn’t dare tear myself away from the radio.
The Orioles won the game later on a home run by Len Sakata, an infielder who’d been sent in to catch during the crucial inning.