Today’s the day in 1954 when Willie Mays made one of the most improbable plays in baseball history, known today as “The Catch.”
Though really, the catch he made was only one amazing part of this amazing play.
Maybe The Catch should be called The Catch And Then The Throw? Eh, maybe not.
It was game one of the 1954 World Series.
Mays and the New York Giants were heavy underdogs against Cleveland, but they were able to keep the game tied at two.
In the eighth inning, Cleveland had runners on first and second, and Giants reliever Don Liddle faced batter Vic Wertz.
On Liddle’s fourth pitch, Wertz hit a ball to deep center field.
In any other ballpark, it would’ve been a three-run homer.
But New York’s Polo Grounds was maybe the weirdest-shaped ballpark in major league history.
Center field went on and on and on.
So Willie Mays raced back, and back, and back, and made an over the shoulder catch that on its own was a landmark.
But he was so far away that the baserunners could’ve advanced or even scored to put Cleveland ahead.
Fortunately for the Giants, Mays had read the impossible situation perfectly.
He made the astonishing catch and then wheeled around and launched the ball back to the infield.
Neither of the baserunners scored, and New York went on to win the game and the World Series.
Now, Willie Mays was so great that some baseball researchers say The Catch may not have even been his greatest defensive moment.
That said, at least one Giant was completely happy with the play.
Don Liddle left the game after facing just that one batter, and supposedly told his teammates: “Well, I got my man.”
September 29 is Goose Day in parts of Pennsylvania, though another place to celebrate is Belfast, Northern Ireland.
There’s a statue there of Alec the Goose, who they say a century ago used to walk young children to and from school.
The true ‘Catch’ story (ESPN)
Goose Day – ‘Alec the Goose’ (Atlas Obscura)
Image via Wikicommons