|Pitchers Stealing Home|
By Leonard Gettelson
Pitchers seldom steal bases, and hardly ever steal home. In fact, no pitcher has stolen home since 1955. Considering that only National League pitchers bat for themselves, there may not be another. Of course, if John "Blue Moon" Odom pitches in the NL, there is always a chance. He has been used as a pinch runner more than 100 times and has a half dozen thefts to his credit (none of home).
The last steal of home by a hurler took place September 1, 1963. Curt Simmons of the Cardinals did the honors in the second inning of a game against the Phils. He dashed home from third on a squeeze play that aborted when Chris Short cut loose with a wild pitch. Simmons also collected a triple and two RBIs in a 7-3 victory.
Simmons' was the last of 40 steals of home by pitchers since 1900. Frank Owen did it three times and several others, including Red Faber, did it twice. One of Faber's performances was tarnished, however, and really should not be included.
That was on July 14, 1915 when the White Sox were leading the A's 4-2 in the 4th inning. It was threatening rain and A's hurler Joe Bush was trying to delay the game by various mound maneuvers. One of his stray tosses hit pitcher Faber, who was batting. Faber took first, and then, in an effort to get thrown out (to speed up the game), he continued running to second, third, and home. The A's in turn made little serious effort to throw him out. In spite of this sorry exhibition, Faber was credited with three steals in one inning, including a steal of home. Ironically, his "steal" of home turned out to be the winning run as the threatened rain never materialized and the White Sox eventually won 6-4.
The Faber frolic should not be confused with the dazzling performance of Wild Bill Donovan of Detroit in a game against Cleveland on May 7, 1906. Donovan singled in the 5th inning, stole second and third (while Ty Cobb fanned), and then home on a double steal. He also hit a triple and won an 8-3 victory. Donovan was probably the best baserunner among pitchers since 1900.
Almost all of the pitcher steals of home were double steals where a teammate was advancing to second. There were only five individual thefts, including that of Simmons, which merit some mention.
On August 8, 1903, Joe McGinnity was pitching one of his famous doubleheader victories. He had beaten the Dodgers 6-1 in the opener. In the third inning of the second game he singled, went to second on a sacrifice, and when the throw was bad he went on to third, which he made on a disputed call by the umpire. While the Dodgers were arguing, Joe dashed home. Dodger hurler Henry Schmidt was so angry he threw the ball out of the park. For this he was banished from the game.
On April 20, 1946, Bucky Walters of the Reds was hooked up in a pitchers battle with Rip Sewell of the Pirates. In the 6th, Walters bunted safely. He moved to third on a sacrifice and a ground out, and with two strikes on Grady Hatton, Walters caught Sewell napping and stole home. It was the only run off Sewell who beat Bucky 2-1 before 28,000 at Pittsburgh.
Freddie Hutchinson of Detroit was a real hero on August 29, 1947 when he tripled against the Browns in the third, and when Ellis Kinder took a big windup, he hustled home in front of the throw. Hutch also singled and won the game 5-4.
On May 26, 1955, Don Newcombe of the Brooklyn Dodgers went into the 9th of a close game with the Pirates. With two runners on base, the big hurler, who was one of the best hitting pitchers in the game, hit a long fly ball which was misjudged by the outfielder and fell for a triple. Normally a pitcher would be gasping for breath at that point, but while El Roy Face was getting ready to deliver to the next batter, Newcombe lumbered home. Face, caught flat-footed, threw wildly, almost hitting Don, who slid in safely.
Here is a rundown on those pitchers who stole home in major league games since 1900.
National League Hurlers Stealing Home Since 1900
American League Hurlers Stealing Home