When Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin’s throw back to pitcher Cole Hamels hit Texas batter Shin-Soo Choo’s hands and rolled down the third base line—allowing the ever-alert Rougned Odor to score from third base—it may have represented the strangest baseball play ever.
Think about it: How many times have you seen the catcher’s throw hit the batter?
Even stranger, baseball’s rule book actually has a rule for this, and as long as Choo was in the batter’s box and made no attempt to block it, it’s a live ball and thus Odor is allowed to advance. As it was, the run put Texas up 3–2 in the seventh inning of the win-or-go-home Game 5. Fortunately for the Blue Jays, they took advantage of three straight Texas errors—which was almost as strange—in the bottom half of the inning and scored four runs to go ahead and eventually win the game.
It may have made for the strangest play in baseball history. Here are four other strange events:
July 5, 1989: Paul O’Neill kicks ball in frustration; saves game
Then-Cincinnati right fielder Paul O’Neill was trying to field a potential game-winning RBI single when he bobbled the ball in the outfield multiple times and finally—out of frustration—kicked it. Incredibly, the kicked ball went right to first baseman Todd Benzinger in time to freeze the runner at third base. As it was, the lucky bounce only delayed the inevitable as the Reds lost the game, two batters later, on a passed ball.
May 26, 1993: Jose Canseco has ball bounce off head for home run
In the early 90s, Jose Canseco was one of the most popular and successful players in the game so it was a bit of a surprise to see him on the wrong end of this one. While chasing down a fly ball in right field, the then-Texas Ranger missed it—on the warning track—and the ball instead hit off his head and went over the fence for what was ruled as a home run. Incidentally, Canseco—a six-time All-Star and former MVP—was never a Gold Glove winner.
June 11, 2009: Indians win with walkoff hit off a seagull in center field
Yes you read that right. In a game at Cleveland’s “Jake by the Lake,” seagulls had invaded center field by the time the 10th inning came around. But that didn’t stop the Indians and Royals from playing. With runners at first and second, Cleveland’s Shin-Soo Choo (the same one) hit a liner up the middle that Royals center fielder Coco Crisp went to field, only the ball took a bad hop—off a seagull’s head—and went past him as the Indians scored the winning run.
March 24, 2001: Dove gets in the way of a Randy Johnson fastball
Randy Johnson threw hard. The 6-foot-10 left-hander terrorized batters for years with a devastating fastball that made batters fear for their lives—just ask poor John Kruk. Unfortunately, one poor dove in a spring training game learned this the hard way when it flew right into the path of one of Johnson’s ferocious pitches. The result was what looked like a cloud of feathers, a deceased bird, and a stunned crowd.