Pitch counts: A relatively modern baseball "invention" designed specifically to protect the pitcher. Completely unofficial and no record books have ever been kept. The following pitchers had no problem with their pitch count, at least for one inning, as they started the inning, threw exactly three pitches and recorded three outs.
IMPORTANT NOTES: The list below is far from being comprehensive. As mentioned above, pitch counts are not officially recorded so each of these instances has been found because it was mentioned in an article (sources include Baseball Digest, the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune & The Sporting News) accompanying the box score.
Fans who see an instance where this 3-pitch inning list should be expanded should contact us, we love hearing from fellow baseball and strive to keep this as up-to-date as possible.
Baseball Almanac is pleased to share this list of every known pitcher to step on the mound, throw exactly three pitches, to exactly three batters, then casually walk back to the dugout.
"The first time I faced him ( Walter Johnson , who had four known 3-pitch innings), I watched him take that easy windup — and then something went past me that made me flinch. I hardly saw the pitch, but I heard it... Every one of us knew we'd met the most powerful arm ever turned loose in a ballpark." - Ty Cobb in Walter Johnson: Baseball's Big Train (Henry W. Thomas, Bison Books, Page 41)
American League Pitchers Who Threw A 3-Pitch Inning
National League Pitchers Who Threw A 3-Pitch Inning
The following three pitch innings all took place during a World Series game: Christy Mathewson ( Game 2 & Game 8 of the 1912 World Series ), Rube Walberg ( Game 5 of the 1929 World Series ), Tiny Bonham ( Game 5 of the 1941 World Series ).
One of the most interesting three pitch instances took place on August 20, 1979 , when six-year veteran infielder Jerry Terrell took the mound in the ninth inning for his first career pitching appearance and joined the 3 pitch inning club!
Another interesting three pitch instance, and quite possibly the shortest inning in Major League history based on number of pitches thrown , occurred on June 9, 1979 . In the thirteenth inning, Marty Pattin threw three pitches to three Yankees ( Thurman Munson flied out to center; Lou Piniella popped to shortstop; Graig Nettles flied out to center), ending the top of the frame. In the bottom of the inning, Ken Clay threw one pitch to Willie Wilson , who hit a walk-off inside the park home run!