1970: A Crazy Play

From baseballlibrary.com:

Tiger P Earl Wilson fans for the 3rd out in the 7th inning against the Twins. On the 3rd strike by Jim Kaat‚ Twins C Paul Ratliff traps the ball in the dirt‚ and must either throw to 1B or tag the batter. Instead he rolls the ball back to the mound‚ ignoring the fact that ump John Rice has not signaled a K. As the Twins head for their dugout‚ Wilson begins running the bases and is around 3B when OF Brant Alyea retrieves the ball and throws to SS Leo Cardenas‚ who is standing by home. Wilson turns back to 3B but Cardenas and Alyea run him down for a 7-6-7 out on a 3rd strike. Wilson pulls a hamstring on the play and leaves‚ trailing‚ 2-1‚ and Detroit ties it up 3-3 in the 9th. But Killebrew singles home Oliva in the bottom of the 9th for the win.

Here’s the boxscore.

Wilson was told to run by third base coach Grover Resinger. When the Twins noticed the pitcher running, most of the fielders were already in the dugout. Brant Ayela was “trotting” in from left field when he noticed the play unfolding. He retrieved the ball from the pitcher’s mound and threw to Leo Cardenas, who emerged from the dugout to cover home. Cardenas returned the throw to Alyea who tagged Wilson.

Mike Lamey’s recap in TSN added some color:

If Earl Wilson had been a little faster or Twin outfielder Brant Alyea a little quicker, the Detroit pitcher might have become the first player ever to circle the bases on a strikeout.

So all Wilson has to show is a strikeout and a sore hamstring muscle that could cost him a round of turns in the pitching rotation.

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