I listened to the game against the Royals on the radio June 3, 1977. The last play was an unusual triple play that saved the game for the Os: a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded ended up with 2 runners tagged out. I described it to a friend years ago who recently looked it up and told me my memory of the play doesn't tally with the scoring or SABR's description. I can't make sense of the scoring.
Does anyone remember it? Is there video or audio somewhere? (It wasn't televised.) Is there a way to get the Sun's account without paying for it? June 4, 1977, page B5, continued on another page, 985 words.
The bases were loaded with nobody out and the Orioles leading by two runs. Al Cowens was on third, Dave Nelson on second, and Freddie Patek on first. Pinch-hitter John Wathan was at the plate.
Wathan hit a fly ball to right field, where Pat Kelly made the catch. Cowens tagged at third and ran home to score. Nelson advanced to third.
Patek tried to advance to second, but Kelly's throw to Belanger covering the base had him beat by plenty. Patek turned around and headed back toward first, where second baseman Billy Smith was covering, since first baseman Tony Muser had moved into the infield for a possible cutoff if Kelly had decided to throw home.
Belanger threw to Smith. Patek turned around again and tried to go to second, but Smith threw back to Belanger, who tagged Patek for the second out.
Meanwhile, seeing the rundown between first and second, Nelson decided to head for home, but Belanger tagged Patek before Nelson got very far down the line. When Belanger looked toward home after making the tag, he saw that he had Nelson hung up, too far down the line to get back to third but not close enough to home to beat a throw to the plate.
Nelson stopped, and Belanger simply ran across the infield with the ball. Nelson finally broke for home, but Belanger caught up to him and tagged him out before he got there for the third out.
Wathan got credit for a sacrifice fly, but it was a triple play, right fielder to shortstop to second baseman to shortstop, with Kelly getting one putout and Belanger the other two.
I also grew up in upstate NY and listened to many a night game on WBAL, though by 1977 I was living in Philadelphia.
The late Bill O'Donnell was doing the play-by-play, but so many things happened on that play, he simply couldn't keep up with the action. I wasn't sure what had happened until I heard Bill exclaiming "A triple play! A triple play!"
And even then, I still wasn't entirely sure what had happened until I saw the TV replay that weekend on "This Week In Baseball." I remember Mel Allen introducing the segment with a shot of a flustered-looking Tippy Martinez on the mound and saying, "He'd like a triple play about now. But that's not likely - or is it?"
As for the other game you mentioned, I think that was a game in Cleveland. There was an overthrow at first base and the umpires waved the apparent winning run home. Weaver accosted the umpires before they left the field to point out that the ground rules were specific about just this type of play, and the ground rules would allow the runner to advance to third but not home. Eventually the umps agreed that he was right. They called the Indians back out of their clubhouse and sent the runner back to third, after which the Orioles got the final out of the ninth inning, leaving the score tied, and won the game in extra innings.
Unfortunately, I don't remember the date, or even the year, when that incident happened.
You meant that Muser moved into the outfield for the relay, not the infield. I don't remember, but it made sense to me that Smith would have gone out for the relay, so that's how I reconstructed it.
I thought that the Os decoyed a play at third to get Nelson to lure Patek off first: a runner on first wouldn't try for second on a fly to right unless the defense tried a play elsewhere.
I thought that Belanger cut off the throw to third, threw to Smith on second, caught Patek in a rundown, then Nelson broke for home and the Os executed a double rundown.
It's hard to believe that Belanger could run Nelson down unless he froze. A veteran, which he was, should have tried to make the Os make an error by running one way or the other, or sliding hard into a base.
But I just heard it on the radio.