Grand Slam Single

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The Grand Slam Single is the hit that ended Game 5 of the 1999 National League Championship Series between the New York Mets and one of their rivals, Atlanta Braves. The game was played on October 17, 1999 at Shea Stadium.

The play[edit]

The game was tied 2–2, going into the top of the 15th inning, until Mets pitcher Octavio Dotel gave up an RBI triple to Keith Lockhart, giving the Braves a 3–2 lead. In the bottom of the 15th inning, the Mets loaded the bases against Braves relief pitcher Kevin McGlinchy. Mets catcher Todd Pratt drew a bases loaded walk, tying the score 3–3.

The next batter was Mets third baseman Robin Ventura. Ventura crushed the 2–1 pitch over the wall in right-center for an ostensible grand slam, winning the game for the Mets and driving the Mets players and fans into a frenzied celebration. Ventura, however, never reached second base as Todd Pratt, the runner who was on first, picked up Ventura in celebration. Subsequently, Ventura was mobbed by his teammates, never finishing his trot around the bases. Because he failed to touch all four bases, the hit was officially scored a single. Roger Cedeño, the runner on third at the time, was ruled the only runner to have crossed home plate before the on-field celebration began and the Mets were awarded a 4–3 victory. Thus, Ventura was only credited with a single and one RBI.

Defining the "single"[edit]

Sports books in Las Vegas were put into an unusual situation with the "single". If Ventura had completed his trip around the bases, the final score would have been 7–3, in which case the game would have gone "over" the over/under line, which was 7​12. Instead, the final score of 4–3 actually put the game "under", meaning that many bettors who would have received payouts (if the hit was ruled a home run) did not.[1]

The play remains as one of the most memorable moments in Mets postseason history. Orel Hershiser, who played on the 1999 Mets remarked, "It will be right up there with Kirk Gibson's home run (Hershiser was a teammate of Gibson with the Los Angeles Dodgers during their championship season of 1988), Carlton Fisk, Bucky Dent. This one will be on that tape with them."[2] The Mets went on to lose the series to the Braves.

Other instances of "grand slam singles"[edit]

According to Baseball-Reference.com, there have been at least two other instances of "grand slam singles." Both occurred when a batter hit a grand slam but subsequently passed the runner ahead of him on the base paths, which according to the rules of Major League Baseball causes the runner who passes his teammate to be called out. This happened on July 9, 1970, when Dalton Jones of the Detroit Tigers passed teammate Don Wert in a game against the Boston Red Sox, leaving him with a 3-RBI single.

It also occurred on July 4, 1976, when Tim McCarver of the Philadelphia Phillies passed teammate Garry Maddox during a 10–5 win in the first game of a doubleheader against the Pittsburgh Pirates, leaving him with a 3-RBI single. In both cases, the other three runs still counted because only the player who passes his teammate is called out. The three baserunners are able to score.[3] Both of these hits took place with fewer than two outs.

Prior to 1920, if a batter hit a walk off home run, he would receive credit for advancing only as many bases as necessary for the winning run to score. Therefore, a walk-off grand slam in a tie game would have officially been scored as a single, and only one run would count. A review in the 1960s found 37 walk-off hits that would have been considered home runs under today's rules, but were instead ruled singles, doubles, or triples under the rules of the time. In April 1968, a committee voted to retroactively change these to home runs, but reversed their ruling a week later following public outrage about the decision extending Babe Ruth's then-record to 715 home runs. It is unclear how many, if any, of these hits were singles that would have been grand slams under modern rules.[4]

Legacy[edit]

Had Ventura completed his trip around the bases, it would have been the first walk-off grand slam in MLB postseason history. That honor eventually went to Nelson Cruz, whose 11th inning bases-loaded home run won game 2 of the 2011 ALCS for the Texas Rangers over the Detroit Tigers.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kevin Iole (October 19, 1999). "Ruling not a big hit with some bettors". Las Vegas Review-Journal.
  2. ^ "1999 NLCS : Game 5". MLB.com. October 17, 1999. Retrieved 2010-08-10.
  3. ^ "Grand Slam Single". Baseball-reference.com. Retrieved August 22, 2010.
  4. ^ Did Babe Ruth Hit 715 Homers? MLB.com
  5. ^ "Postseason Batting Event Finder: 1903 to 2017, All Teams, Home Runs, Walk-off With Runners on 123". Baseball Reference. Retrieved July 1, 2018.