54° Good Evening
54° Good Evening

Tommy John once made three errors -- on one play

Then-45-year-old veteran left-hander Tommy John delivers a pitch

Then-45-year-old veteran left-hander Tommy John delivers a pitch during a game against the Montreal Expos. Credit: AP, 1989

Tommy John is known for more than the elbow surgery that bears his name and his near-Hall of Fame career.

John is believed to be the only pitcher to commit three errors on one play.

It happened on July 27, 1988, in the fourth inning of a game that John -- then 45 years old -- was pitching for the Yankees against the Brewers.

Jim Gantner was on first base when Jeffrey Leonard hit a tapper to the first-base side of the mound that John bobbled for error No. 1. He then threw it past Don Mattingly and down the rightfield line for error No. 2.

Dave Winfield retrieved the ball -- according to the Newsday account of the game, it first hit the ballboy -- and threw home in an attempt to nab Gantner.

John cut off the throw and fired wildly to the plate for error No. 3. Both runners scored.

"I shouldn't have thrown the ball when I first fielded it,'' John said after the game. "I think there were too many negative ions in the air. My first instinct was to field the ball with two hands. Then I thought I've got to field the ball with one hand. It got into the back of my hand, and I never should have thrown it. I shot-put it past Donnie. I threw it to the ballboy, and he got out of the way. Then I got it back and threw it to the [Brewers'] trainer.''

John was told after the Yankees' 16-3 win that he had tied a mark set by James Bentley Seymour of the 1898 New York Giants of a pitcher making three errors in one inning.

"Knew him well," John said. "Pitched against him in the Eastern League."


We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

New York Sports