Monday, May 08, 2006

May 8th, 1878

Paul Hines Turns Triple Play

Except for that headline, Paul Hines would be a pretty forgotten player. That's a shame, because his story is one worth hearing and he was a terrific ballplayer besides. Hines won the Triple Crown for the NL in 1878 and was for many years the center fielder for the team that would eventually become the Cubs. Hines was deafened after being beaned in 1886, and later gained a patronage job from President William McKinley. He died in 1935, apparently in a nursing home after people in baseball began to care for Hines who was arrested on pickpocket charges in 1921 having lost nearly all his sight in addition to his hearing.

The headline nevertheless remains his claim-to-fame, not just because it was an unassisted triple play (a rarity even today) but because it was, if records are to be believed, the first unassisted triple play in history. Hines caught a long out and then retired both runners by stepping on either second or third (reports vary; second would seem more logical given he was a center fielder) thus putting out the runners who had passed the base, as were the rules at the time.

So next time you need a trivia question (and not that will get you decked in the mouth) you can think of Paul Hines and his feat. But do try to remember him for more than that, he surely deserves it.

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