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Cubs' bases-loaded triples

The most exciting play in baseball is among the rarest: a bases-loaded triple.

It is a play that often sends all 13 players on the field into action: the batter, the 3 runners and all 9 fielders.

And it often ends with a slide and a tag at third, whereas a bases-clearing double usually ends with the batter standing alone on second, exulting.

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According to the data at baseball-reference.com, the Cubs have hit 124 bases-loaded triples.

That data begins only in 1916. For comparison, over the same span of 106 seasons, the Cubs have hit 301 grand slams, nearly 2.5 times as many.

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LESS THAN 3 PERCENT

The Cubs have hit 4,516 triples since 1916. Compared to their 124 with 3 on base, they have hit 4 times as many, 510, with 2 on; more than 10 times as many, 1,305, with 1 on; and nearly 19 times as many, 2,307, with none on.

As a percentage, that is 51.1 percent with the bases empty, 28.9 percent with 1 on, 11.3 percent with 2 on and a mere 2.7 percent with 3 on.

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The 124 triples with a runner on every base represent 1 of every 37 triples since 1916.

The Cubs hit 1,050 triples in 1901-15. If bases-loaded triples happened at the same rate then as in later years, there would have been 28 that produced 3 runs.

They hit 1,691 triples in 1876-1900. At the same rate, that would have included 46 with the bases loaded, for a total of 74 before the Modern Era and a grand total of 199.

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NONE IN 2021

The Cubs hit 26 triples during the just-concluded season. None were with 3 men on base. They did hit 8 bases-loaded doubles, 6 of which scored all the runners. They also hit 6 grand slams.

The 29 other MLB teams combined to hit 644 triples, of which 16 were with the bases full -- 1 of every 40.3, slightly higher than the Cubs' all-time ratio.

The other teams have hit 2,448 bases-loaded triples since 1916, including 101 against the Cubs. The most recent of those was by Gregory Polanco of the Pirates, off Luke Farrell, on June 10, 2018.

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The Cubs had had one of their own about 3 weeks earlier, by Jason Heyward, on May 19, in the fifth inning of Game 2 of a doubleheader at Cincinnati. It was a pop fly down the right field line with 2 out that fell amid 3 fielders.

They have had 1 more since then, by Kyle Schwarber, on Sept. 2, 2019, in the seventh inning at home against the Mariners.

Schwarber's hard-hit grounder into the right field corner happened with 1 out and broke a 1-1 tie.

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FIRST BY 'DADDYLONGLEGS'

Of the Cubs' 124 bases-loaded triples, 32 came with the score tied, 67 while the Cubs were ahead and 25 while they were behind.

Fifteen of the 25 they hit while trailing put the Cubs in the lead, including the very first of all 124.

On Monday, May 8, 1916, the Cubs split a doubleheader at home with the Pirates. They were to have been idle on Tuesday, before welcoming the Braves, but instead played a makeup game against the Reds, who came to Chicago following a 5-game series at St. Louis, before returning home on Wednesday to host Brooklyn.

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Here is how I. E. Sanborn of the Chicago Tribune began his account of the game between the Cubs and Reds:

"Daddylonglegs [Cy] Williams busted one against the right field wall at Weeghman Park in the eighth inning yesterday with three Cubs on bases, and started a reel of flying feet which converted sure defeat into sudden victory in the hangover game with Cincinnati. Final score, 8 to 5.

"The Reds accumulated their five runs early off [Tom] Seaton and [George] Pierce, while the Tinkers [i.e., Cubs], although hitting the ball hard, were able to get only three tallies off [Clarence] Mitchell, whom they drove to cover in one inning, and [Pete] Schneider, who seemed to be a darling of the gods the way he was yanked out of danger in almost every inning.

"Up to their eighth the Cubs were able to get only one tally off Schneider, and that made the count 5 to 3 before Williams exploded his bomb.

"[Mike] Prendergast, who took up the veterans' burden in the fifth and pitched the Reds to a standstill, was the lad who made the feat performed by Williams.

"Mique [sic] was allowed to bat for himself in the eighth because there were two down when his turn came, and it didn't look worth while to waste a pinch hit without pinch. Prendergast indicated his opinion of pinch hitters in general by pinching off a clean single for himself.

"[Frank] Schulte duplicated it, and [Max] Flack, not to be outdone, shot another single into right field, filling the bases.

"[Right hander] Schneider was pulled off the slab and [lefty Al] Schulz was substituted by Manager [Buck] Herzog. This looked like a good business with Williams, a left handed batsman, coming up.

"Cy took a toe hold with both his long legs and leaned against a fast ball with all his willowy weight. Straight out over center he lined it into the teeth of the wind.

"[Greasy] Neale went in desperate pursuit of the drive, but it cleared him dome and ricocheted off the concrete wall instead. Three Cubs scampered across the pan and Williams went to third before the pill came back."

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Heinie Zimmerman then singled, scoring Williams. "Zim" then stole second and third, romping home when the catcher threw wildly trying to the latter theft.

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WALK-OFF WONDER

In all the years since, only once has another bases-loaded triple erased a 5-3 deficit. Turner Barber did it, in the seventh inning at home against the Braves on July 8, 1922, almost a century ago.

On May 21, 1927, the Cubs were behind, 6-4, with 1 out in the top of the ninth at Brooklyn before Hack Wilson tripled home 3 runners.

A decade and a month later, on June 18, 1937, the Phillies held a 7-5 lead as the Cubs came to bat in the bottom of the ninth.

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"Claude Passeau, second Philly pitcher, pitched a single to Gabby Hartnett and walked Joe Marty," the Tribune reported. "[Hugh] Mulcahy, losing pitcher, entered the conflict, and on his only pitch [Billy] Jurges bunted safely to load the bases. [Lonny] Frey, facing Wayne LaMaster, whiffed on four pitches.

"[Augie] Galan, taking his righthanded batting stance against the lefthanded LaMaster, missed a strike and took a ball. Then the little ruttie ironer from Oakland slashed one along the third base line.

"[Clay] Bryant, running for Hartnett, and Marty galloped home with the tying runs. Jurges beheld [Phillies left fielder Morrie] Arnovich frantically chasing his roomy's shot as it ricocheted through the Cub bull pen, and Bill sprinted home with the winning run as Galan reached third.

"The ball never was returned to the infield and the Ladies' Day crowd of 23,104 joyfully departed the premises."

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That was the first of only 4 walk-off triples in Cubs' history. The others all came during the next 10 years, and all with the scored tie and a runner on first. The batters were Frank Demaree, against the Cardinals, in 1938; Phil Cavarretta, against the Reds, in 1941; and Bobby Sturgeon, against the Phillies, in 1947.

Demaree did it in the 11th inning; Cavarretta, in the 10th; and Sturgeon, in the ninth.

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The Cubs have had 3 bases-loaded triples while trailing, 3-1: by Marty Callaghan, at New York, in the fourth inning, in 1923; by Bill Madlock, at home against the Cardinals, in the sixth inning, in 1974; and by Larry Bowa, at home against the Pirates, in the seventh inning, in 1983.

They have turned a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 lead on a triple 5 times:

1. Paul Carter, at Cincinnati, fourth inning, 1920

2. Butch Weis, at home vs. Cardinals, first inning, 1924

3. Dom Dallessandro, at home vs. Dodgers, first inning, 1943

4. George Mitterwald, at home vs. Braves, sixth inning, 1975

5. Darwin Barney, at Miami, second inning, 2012.

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FIT TO BE TIED

Four of the Cubs' bases-loaded triples tied the game.

The first of those 4 was their second 3-run triple since 1916. It came on April 26, 1917, and it was hit by a pitcher, of all people -- a pitcher pinch hitting for a position player.

The Cubs began the seventh inning in a 3-0 hole. Fred Merkle fouled out, but Cy Williams singled, Les Mann doubled and Art Wilson walked, loading the bases.

Playing the left/right odds, Manager Fred Mitchell pulled third baseman Charlie Deal, a righty, who was 1 for 2 for the day but slashing just .133/.188/.133. Lefty-swinging Ruether's line was .273/.385/.364. In his previous 3 games, all when pitching, he was 4 for 11, including a triple.

He swung at a pitch by righty Jimmy Ring and sent the ball soaring over the head of center fielder Greasy Neale. By the time he retrieved the ball and got it back to the infield, Ruether was standing on third and the score was tied at 3.

A pinch runner came home moments later on a sacrifice fly by pitcher Phil Douglas, giving the Cubs a 4-3 lead.

Neale gained some revenge in the bottom of the inning, slugging a 2-out triple of his own. He tied the game when the next batter poked an infield single. The third baseman threw wildly to first, allowing the batter to wind up on third. Jim Thorpe's hit then put the Reds in front again, and they held on to win, 6-4.

Ruether remains the only Cub pitcher ever to hit a triple while batting for a position player.

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Ray Grimes also erased a 3-0 deficit with his triple at home against the Robins, today's Dodgers, in 1922.

In 1950, Preston Ward changed the score from 4-1 to 4-4 at home against the Cardinals.

And in 1956, Harry Chiti knotted the count at 8 with his 3-run triple at St. Louis.

All 3 hits, oddly, came in the fifth inning.

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TAKING THE FIFTH

The Cubs have produced more bases-loaded triples in the fifth, 20, than in any other innings. They have had 17 in the third and the seventh, and 16 in the eighth. Only 7 have come in the ninth.

They have done it 65 times on the road and 59 at home.

Here is the number they have hit, from the first through the ninth, at home and away:

HOME:

7, 3, 7, 7, 8, 6, 10, 10, 1

AWAY:

6, 6, 10, 4, 12, 4, 7, 6, 6

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They have had 4 bases-clearing triples in extra innings, all on the road:

13th: Randy Jackson, at St. Louis, score 3-3, 2 out, in 1955

12th: Otto Vogel, at Pittsburgh, ahead 5-3, 0 out, in 1923

12th: Mike Vail, at Cincinnati, ahead 6-4, 1 out, in 1980

10th: Cliff Heathcote, at New York, ahead 3-2, 0 out, in 1922

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Four of their 6 triples with the bases full in the top of the ninth came between 1922 and 1937.

The first of those was by pitcher Hippo Vaughn, snapping a 1-1 tie at Pittsburgh. The last was by Augie Galan, with the Cubs ahead, 2-1, at Cincinnati.

The next to do it was Lou Jackson, at San Francisco, with the Cubs in front, 5-3, in 1958.

The most recent was Jose Macias, at San Diego, with Cubs on top, 3-1, in 2004.

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Vaughn's came with 2 out; the others, all with 1.

Of the total 124 bases-loaded triples, 58 happened with 2 out, 50 with 1 and just 16 with none.

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4 TIMES, 3 BASES FOR 3 RUNS

Sammy Sosa, the Cubs' all-time leader in home runs, ranks only 53rd in triples, with 32, the same as Peanuts Lowrey, 1 fewer than Barry McCormick and 1 more than 6 players, including Glenn Beckert, Starlin Castro and Ivan de Jesus.

But 4 of Sosa's triples drove in 3 runs, the most by any Cub.

Galan, Grimes and Ryne Sandberg each did it 3 times.

Fourteen Cubs did it twice: Gene Baker, Larry Bowa, Phil Cavarretta, Chris Coghlan, Frank Demaree, Dee Fondy, Charlie Grimm, Jason Heyward, Reed Johnson, Bill Nicholson, Bill Serena, Otto Vogel, Billy Williams and Hack Wilson

That makes a total of 18 players with multiple 3-run triples. They turned the trick 41 times, almost exactly one third of the 124 times by 104 total players who have done it at all.

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FAMOUS AND NOT SO

The list of 83 players who hit 1 triple with the bases full includes some of the best-known players in team history:

Bill Buckner, Starlin Castro, Kiki Cuyler, Shawon Dunston, Gabby Hartnett, Babe Herman, Billy Herman, Rogers Hornsby, Ferguson Jenkins (pitcher), Don Kessinger, Kenny Lofton, Bill Madlock, Fred McGriff, Keith Moreland, Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber, Riggs Stephenson and Hippo Vaughn (pitcher).

But it also includes a substantial number of lesser-known players, some of whom were mentioned previously:

Vic Aldridge (pitcher), Ethan Allen, Turner Barber, Scott Bullet, Marty Callaghan, Paul Carter, Harry Chiti, Dom Dallessandro, George Grantham, Greg Gross, Lou Jackson, John Kelleher, Jose Macias, Freddie Maguire, Les Mann, William Marriott, Joe Marty, Bill McCabe, Damian Miller, Lou Novikoff, Dode Paskert, Kevin Roberson, Dutch Ruether (pitcher), Bob Speake, John Stephenson, Lou Stringer, Ty Waller and Butch Weis

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DOUBLE TRIPLE

Babe Herman, Galan, Dunston and Macias share a rare distinction: each hit another triple in the game in which they cleared the bases.

Herman drove home the Cubs' first run with a first-inning triple at Pittsburgh on Aug. 8, 1934, then tripled again in the top of the ninth with the score 10-3. He actually scored on his second triple, as the second baseman threw wildly while trying to throw Herman out at third.

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Less than a year later, on June 25, 1935, Galan tripled in the third and scored on a fly ball. His second triple came in the eighth, with 2 out and score tied at 5. He was thrown out in his bid for an inside-the-park homer.

Then 55 years went by before Dunston joined the club on July 28, 1990, at Montreal. He smacked a leadoff triple and scored in the fifth, broke a 3-3 tie with a triple in the sixth, and for good measure tripled home 2 runs with a 2-out triple in the ninth.

Only 2 other Cubs ever had 3 triples in a game: Charlie Hollocher, in 1922, and Ernie Banks, in 1966.

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The most recent with 2, including 1 with the bases loaded, was Jose Macias, at San Diego on May 14, 2004. Just 1 inning before his 3-run triple in the ninth, he hit a leadoff triple and scored moments later on a single that gave the Cubs a 3-1 lead.

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DEJA VU

On July 12, 1936, the Cubs played a game against the Bees, today's Braves, that was unlike any other in their long history.

That Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field, with 2 out in the third inning and the Cubs leading, 1-0, Ethan Allen blasted a 3-run triple.

In the fifth, Ken O'Dea did the same, with 1 out and scored 9-0.

It is the only time that the Cubs have had a pair of bases-loaded triples in the same game.

Allen and O'Dea each finished with 5 runs batted in, as the Cubs hammered the Bees, 17-1. Each had a double to with his single. O'Dea added 2 singles and Allen, 1.

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The Cubs have had only 1 game in which 1 player hit a bases-loaded triple and another hit multiple triples.

That was on May 3, 1955, at New York, where Bob Speake delivered the 3-run triple with 1 out in the first inning, then Dee Fondy tripled home single runs in the second and eighth. After his second triple, he came home on a fly ball to complete the scoring in the Cubs' 6-0 victory.

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RISING TO THE OCCASION

Eight of the Cubs' 124 triples with 3 aboard since 1916 were delivered by pinch hitters.

The first was by Dutch Ruether, as described above.

The others:

1. Bill Serena, at home vs. Pirates, ahead 4-3, eighth inning, 0 out, on July 2, 1952

2. Harry Chiti, at St. Louis, behind 5-8, fifth inning, 1 out, on May 27, 1956

3. Lou Jackson, at San Francisco, ahead 5-3, ninth inning, 1 out, on Sept. 24, 1958

4. John Stephenson, at Atlanta, ahead 9-2, seventh inning, 1 out, on July 3, 1967

5. Greg Gross, at Philadelphia, tied a 6, seventh inning, 2 out, on July 16, 1977

6. Mike Vail, at Cincinnati, ahead 6-4, 12th inning, 1 out, on May 2, 1980

7. Marvell Wynne, at home vs. Mets, ahead 4-3, seventh inning, 0 out, on April 18, 1990.

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In my researches, I have documented at least 1 other by a pinch hitter before 1916: Harry McIntire, at Pittsburgh, on May 4, 1912.

The Cubs trailed, 12-5, after 6 innings.

"Then in the seventh they went on a batting rampage, driving home six runs, which put them within one of the enemy," the Tribune wrote.

The box score shows McIntire pinch hit in that inning, his only at bat of the day; that he hit a triple in the game; and that he had 3 RBI.

But the Tribune's story makes no mention of his contribution to the big rally.

The Cubs still lost, 12-11.

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