Cubs who circled bases on triple-and-error

A triple is by far the rarest hit in Major League Baseball.

This season, according to data at, there have been 0.13 triples per team per game.

For comparison, there have been 1.08 home runs, 1.64 doubles and 5.34 singles.

That 0.13 triples is tied for the all-time low, set in the shortened 2020 season.

The triples average hasn't been as high as 0.20 since 2009, as 0.25 since 1980 and as 0.30 since 1954.

Rarer, still, is a triple of which the batter winds up scoring because of an error on the play -- a variant of the "Little League home run."



Alfonso Rivas of the Cubs did it on Saturday, with 1 out and nobody on base in the second inning against the Giants.

He was waved home after the second baseman's relay throw, trying to gun down Rivas at third, sailed out of the field of play.

By my count, that was just the Cubs' 58th such triple-plus-error since 1915, first year for which baseball-reference has play-level data.

In those 108 seasons, through Saturday, the Cubs had hit 4,607 triples, so the 58 represent just 1.3 percent of the total.

Only 7 of the 58 have come in the last 25 years, all since 2001.


The last to do it before Rivas was Daniel Descalso, on May 20, 2019, also at home, against the Phillies.

The Cubs trailed, 1-3, as they came to bat in the eighth inning.

Victor Caratini walked, as did Jason Heyward. Albert Almora's bunt was fielded by the pitcher, who threw to second, forcing out Heyward.

Descalso then lined a pitch to deep left-center, driving home both runners. The shortstop's relay to third was wild, allowing Descalso to score the go-ahead runs.

The Phillies tied the game on a 2-out RBI single in the ninth, then won it on a 2-out, 2-strike solo homer in the 10th.



Descalso's was just the 5th that turned a deficit into a lead.

The first was by Stan Hack, on Aug 16, 1942. The host Cubs trailed the Pirates, 0-1, when he delivered a triple-and-error with a runner on first and 2 out in the fifth inning.

Less than 2 years later, on June 28, 1944, Hack cleared the bases with a 1-out, third-inning triple and scored on an error by the shortstop, putting the Cubs in front of the Dodgers, 4-1.

On Aug. 24, 1955, Ernie Banks did it at Brooklyn, in the top of the third, with 2 out, runners on second and third, and the Cubs down, 0-2.

On June 3, 1983, against the Pirates, the Cubs went from behind, 1-3, to ahead, 5-3, on Larry Bowa's 1-out, bases-clearing triple and error in the bottom of the seventh.

Only 1 other Cub drove home 3 runs and scored a fourth thanks to an error: Babe Herman, at Pittsburgh, on Aug. 8, 1934. The Cubs led, 10-3, when he did it with 1 out in the ninth.



Rivas' triple-and-error on Saturday was the 13th of the 58 that came with no score.

Just one such play broke a tie by any other score. Jose Cardenal did it, on Sept. 22, 1973, in the 10th inning at Philadelphia, with 2 outs, runners on the corners and the score knotted at 2.

Cardenal's is the only triple-and-error the Cubs have had in extra innings.

They have had 5 in the ninth inning, all on the road, of which 4 increased leads and 1 prevented an 0-4 shutout.

Descalso's in 2019 was the first the Cubs ever had in the bottom of the eighth.



The earliest triple-and-error by a Cub was by Kiki Cuyler, leading off at Philadelphia on Aug. 20, 1931.

Less than a year later, on June 16, 1932, Cuyler did it in the top of the first again, with 2 out and a runner on second.

Walt "Moose" Moryn duplicated Cuyler's 1932 feat on Sept. 9, 1958.

Moises Alou did it in the top of the first with 2 on and 1 out on June 14, 2003.

Cuyler also was the first of 3 Cubs with a triple-and-error in the bottom of the first, on July 7, 1932. It came with a runner on second and 1 out.

On June 5, 1963, Lou Brock circled the bases at Wrigley Field as the first Cub to bat in the game.

Fred McGriff did it with 1 out and nobody on in the first on Aug. 26, 2001.



7 times, a triple and error tied the score. All came with nobody on base.

The first was Aug. 14, 1935, when Augie Galan led off the sixth inning at Brooklyn and the Dodgers leading, 2-1.

Then the Cubs did it 5 times in a span of 4 seasons:

June 12, 1953: Randy Jackson, at Brooklyn, 4th inning, score 3-4

Sept. 20, 1954: Jackson, at home vs. Cardinals, 7th inning, 1-2

May 1, 1955: Jim Bolger, at Philadelphia, 7th inning, 4-5

June 2, 1956: Walt Moryn, at home vs. Dodgers, 5th inning, 1-2

Sept. 9, 1956: Pete Whisenant, at home vs. Braves, 5th inning, 0-1

The only tying triple-and-error in the 66 years since then was perhaps the rarest of them all: the only 1 hit by a pitcher.

Ray Burris led off the third inning at home against the Phillies, on May 24, 1978. His triple and a bad throw by the shortstop tied the game at 1.



The 58 triples-and-errors were hit by 44 different Cubs.

Cuyler had 6: 2 each in 1930, 1931 and 1932.

Banks, Galan and Hack had 3 apiece.

Billy Herman, Randy Jackson, Don Kessinger and Moryn all had 2.

The list of the 35 players with 1 is at the end of the post.



Nearly half of the 58 rare plays came in just 2 decades, the 1930s (15) and 1950s (11). There were 7 in the 1970s, 6 in the 1960s and no more than 3 in any other decade.

Here is total for each decade (1910s is only 1915-19):

1910s: 3

1920s: 3

1930s: 15

1940s: 2

1950s: 11

1960s: 6

1970s: 7

1980s: 2

1990s: 2

2000s: 3

2010s: 3

2020s: 1



(in alphabetical order by last name, in groups of 10)

Sparky Adams, Moises Alou, Javier Baez, Glen Beckert, Jim Bolger, Larry Bowa, Lou Brock, Ray Burris, Jose Cardenal, Doug Dascenzo

Ivan de Jesus, Charlie Deal, Daniel Descalso, Larry Doyle, Max Flack, Wilbur Good, Babe Herman, Jose Hernandez, Ken Hubbs, Clyde McCullough

Fred McGriff, Rick Monday, Corey Patterson, Adolfo Phillips, Lance Richbourg, Alfonso Rivas, Ryne Sandberg, Roy Smalley, Ryan Sweeney, Bud Teachout

Joe Wallis, Lee Walls, Pete Whisenant, Billy Williams, Heinie Zimmerman

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