The Magazine

Triple Feature

A once-in-a-lifetime moment in baseball.

Sep 7, 2009, Vol. 14, No. 47 • By JOE QUEENAN
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The most amazing thing for me was how close I came to missing the whole thing. I was only at the game because a Mets fan I know could not bear to watch the inept, injury-plagued home team any longer and gave me the tickets.
When it started to shower that morning, I almost decided to stay home because I do not like watching Philadelphia teams play in New York stadiums, especially in the rain. Then, as Phils closer Brad Lidge, who is having a truly nightmarish season, was getting ready to pitch to Francoeur, I felt my throat drying up and went off in search of water. Luckily, the upper deck in right field at Citi Field doesn't have any water fountains--even though the fatso manning the Fan Assistance desk did not know this--and even though the Pepsi Porch is a Saharan sun field where one day some fan will actually die of dehydration.

Because there was no water to be found, I returned to the stands--just in time to see the once-in-a-lifetime triple play. After the game, some of my friends said it was horribly unfair for Utley to miss out on this chance at baseball immortality. But as Utley is going to Cooperstown on the first ballot, he already has a loftier brand of immortality locked up. Moreover, had Utley been in the game, there would have been no chance for a triple play because the two previous batters would never have reached base.

Or would they? The next day, on the very first Mets at-bat, Utley dropped a routine pop fly, then threw wildly past second, allowing the batter to round the bases. The Met scoring that inside-the-park-home-run-via-double-error was Angel Pagan, who had hit the bizarre inside-the-park four-bagger that lodged under the center field matting the day before. Utley had never made two errors on the same play in his entire career.
And some people still wonder why soccer will never catch on in this country.

Joe Queenan is the author, most recently, of Closing Time: A Memoir.