A triple play (denoted by TP) is the rare act of making three outs during the same inning, as one continuous play.
There are many ways a triple play can be performed; most of them are done with runners on first and second base. Typically, a ball hit to the shortstop or third baseman is fielded, the runner heading to third is forced out or tagged out, the ball is thrown to second base for a force play, and then finally to first to throw out the batter. Another common sequence (to the extent such plays can be called common) is a line drive to the shortstop or second baseman that is caught without the runners noticing or after they have taken large leads (as in the case of a hit and run), the runners then being forced or tagged out when they fail to tag up.
Triple plays are relatively rare, since a triple play requires at least two runners already on base, no outs, a batted ball hit in a way that allows it to be fielded cleanly so that three baserunners can be put out or unusual incompetence in baserunning, and quick action from the fielders to perform.
The unassisted triple play, a triple play in which only one fielder handles the ball, is the least common type of triple play, and is arguably the rarest occurrence in baseball: it has happened only 15 times since 1900 at the major league level. Triple plays, even of the unassisted variety, are not extraordinarily difficult for major league fielders to achieve; their rarity is due to their dependence on specific circumstances arising in a game.
The chart below includes every triple play in Major League history. The date of the game, the inning (Inn), the league (Lg), what team actually turned the triple play (Fielding Team), whether they were at home or away (HA), what team was at the plate (Batting Team), which bases had runners (Men On) and how did the official scorer denote the play (Scored).
"'I thought I was correct at first, but then I saw the pictures, and I had to admit I probably missed it.' - Umpire Bob Davidson after blowing a call that would have given the 1992 Blue Jays the first triple play in the World Series since 1920." - Author Jonathan Fraser Light in The Cultural Encyclopedia of Baseball (McFarland Publishers, July 2005, Page 958)
A Chronological List of Every Triple Play in Major League Baseball History
Did you know that the Boston Red Sox , on July 17, 1990 , were the first team to hit into two triple plays in the same game? Did you know their opponent—the first team to turn two triple plays in the same game—the Minnesota Twins , lost?
Brooks Robinson is the only player to ever hit into four triple plays over the course of a career. Three players are next in the career triple play record books, with three each: Deacon McGuire , George Sisler & Joe Start .
|Top Ten Triple Play Scoring Frequency|
|1.||3B - 2B - 1B||95||13.18%|
|2.||SS - 2B - 1B||56||7.77%|
|3.||2B - SS - 1B||44||6.10%|
|4.||1B - 1B - SS||39||5.41%|
|5.||SS - SS - 1B||26||3.61%|
|6.||2B - 1B - SS||18||2.50%|
|7.||2B - 2B - 1B||17||2.36%|
|8.||P - SS - 1B||16||2.22%|
|9.||SS - 2B - 1B - CA||14||1.94%|
|10.||3B - 2B - 1B - CA||10||1.39%|
|3B - 3B - 1B||10||1.39%|
On September 30, 1962 , Joe Pignatano hit into a triple play against the Chicago Cubs - the last at bat of his Major League career. Through today, he remains the only player in Major League history to end his career hitting into a triple play.