1996: An April Fools’ Joke on the Twins

April 2, 1996

The second game of the 1996 regular season provided one of the most unique stolen bases in major league history. The play itself was unspectacular. Up by 3 in the top of the 9th inning, the Tigers called for a hit-and-run with one out and Melvin Nieves at the plate. On a 3-2 delivery by Twins pitcher Dan Naulty, the runner at 1st base took off. Nieves offered at the pitch but failed to make contact. Catcher Greg Myers fired to second base, but the throw nicked the runner’s batting helmet and kicked off the heal of shortstop Pat Meares’ glove, allowing the runner to slide safely into second for a stolen base.

What was remarkable about the play, however, was that it ended the longest recorded streak of games played without a stolen base. The runner had been involved in 1,096 games prior, and was 0-for-5 in stolen base attempts. The runner was also listed anywhere between 230 and 250 pounds, though most observers thought he was closer to 300. After the game, Cecil Fielder suggested that maybe his manager would start moving him more often now that he had a stolen base under his wings. He may have been on to something, because later that season he successfully stole his second base, the last of his career.


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